Prevention of infant eczema by neonatal Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccination: The MIS BAIR randomized controlled trial

Allergy. 2022 Mar;77(3):956-965. doi: 10.1111/all.15022. Epub 2021 Aug 9.


Background: Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine could play a role in counteracting the rising prevalence of atopic diseases, through its beneficial off-target effects. We aimed to determine whether neonatal BCG vaccination reduces the incidence of eczema in infants.

Methods: Randomized controlled trial with 1272 infants allocated to receive BCG-Denmark or no BCG at birth. The primary outcome was the 12-month incidence of eczema based on 3-monthly questionnaires. Eczema was also assessed at a 12-month clinic visit. NCT01906853.

Results: The 12-month eczema incidence was 32.2% in the BCG group compared with 36.6% in the control group (adjusted risk difference (aRD) -4.3%, 95% CI -9.9% to 1.3%, multiple imputation model). In addition, comparing infants in the BCG group with the control group, 15.7% vs. 19.2% had eczema lesions at the 12-month visit (aRD -3.5%, 95% CI -8.0% to 1.0%); 35.7% vs. 39.0% reported using topical steroids (aRD -3.3, 95% CI -9.2 to 2.7); and 7.3% vs. 10.2% had severe eczema scores (aRD -3.0%, 95% CI -8.8% to 2.7%). In 344 high-risk infants (two atopic parents), the 12-month eczema incidence was 35.3% in the BCG group compared with 46.8% in the control group (aRD -11.5%, 95% CI -21.9% to -1.2%; number needed to treat 8.7, 95% CI 4.6 to 83.3).

Conclusion: There is insufficient evidence to recommend neonatal BCG vaccination in all infants for the prevention of eczema in the first year of life; however, a modest beneficial effect was observed among high-risk infants. A single dose of BCG-Denmark soon after birth could reduce the incidence of eczema in infants with two atopic parents.

Keywords: Mycobacterium bovis; Atopic dermatitis; SCORing Atopic Dermatitis scoring system; William's UK diagnostic criteria; patient-oriented eczema measure; prevention; vaccine non-specific effect.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • BCG Vaccine
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / prevention & control
  • Eczema* / epidemiology
  • Eczema* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Prevalence
  • Vaccination


  • BCG Vaccine

Associated data