Old whooping cough vaccine could prevent food allergies in babies

A new Australian study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that rates of children with food allergies have risen exponentially since the late 1990s – around the same time a new whooping cough vaccine was rolled out nationally.

Studies conducted so far show that the older ‘whole cell’ whooping cough vaccine potentially trained babies’ cells and immune system against food allergies as well. The older ‘whole cell’ whooping cough vaccine was eliminated in 1999 and replaced with a new version, amid reports Australian babies were suffering minor side effects, including fever and pain where the needle was injected.

Lead researcher Professor Tom Snelling, from Curtin University and Telethon Kids Institute, said that while both vaccines were effective in protection against whooping cough, findings pointed to the whole cell vaccine providing the additional benefit of reducing the risk of serious allergies.

Researchers are putting the call out for 3000 Australian babies to take part in a carefully controlled trial to prove the efficacy of the vaccine in preventing allergies.

“Participants will be followed until they are 12 months old to confirm whether the whole cell vaccine truly helps to protect against food allergies in infancy and, if successful, a new vaccine schedule could form part of an effective strategy to combat the rise in food allergies,” Professor Snelling added.

For more info or to participate in the study, https://vaccine.telethonkids.org.au/ or email OPTIMUM@telethonkids.org.au.

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