Whole-cell pertussis vaccine in early infancy for the prevention of allergy in children

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Background: Atopic diseases are the most common chronic conditions of childhood. The apparent rise in food anaphylaxis in young children over the past three decades is of particular concern, owing to the lack of proven prevention strategies other than the timely introduction of peanut and egg. Due to reported in vitro differences in the immune response of young infants primed with whole-cell pertussis (wP) versus acellular pertussis (aP) vaccine, we systematically appraised and synthesised evidence on the safety and the potential allergy preventive benefits of wP, to inform recommendation for future practice and research. Objectives: To assess the efficacy and safety of wP vaccinations in comparison to aP vaccinations in early infancy for the prevention of atopic diseases in children. Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Ovid MEDLINE, Embase, and grey literature. The date of the search was 7 September 2020. Selection criteria: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and non-randomised studies of interventions (NRSIs) that reported the occurrence of atopic diseases, and RCTs only to assess safety outcomes. To be included studies had to have at least six months follow-up, and involve children under 18 years old, who received a first dose of either wP (experimental intervention) or aP (comparator) before six months of age. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently screened studies for eligibility, extracted the data, and assessed risk of bias using standard Cochrane methods. We assessed the certainty of the evidence using GRADE. Our primary outcomes were diagnosis of IgE-mediated food allergy and all-cause serious adverse events (SAEs). Secondary outcomes included: diagnosis of not vaccine-associated anaphylaxis or urticaria, diagnosis of asthma, diagnosis of allergic rhinitis, diagnosis of atopic dermatitis and diagnosis of encephalopathy. Due to paucity of RCTs reporting on the atopic outcomes of interest, we assessed a broader outcome domain (cumulative incidence of atopic disease) as specified in our protocol. We summarised effect estimates as risk ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Where appropriate, we pooled safety data in meta-analyses using fixed-effect Mantel-Haenszel methods, without zero-cell corrections for dichotomous outcomes. Main results: We identified four eligible studies reporting on atopic outcomes, representing 7333 children. Based on a single trial, there was uncertain evidence on whether wP vaccines affected the risk of overall atopic disease (RR 0.85, 95% CI 0.62 to 1.17) or asthma only (RR 1.04, 95% CI 0.59 to 1.82; 497 children) by 2.5 years old.Three NRSIs were judged to be at serious or critical risk of bias due to confounding, missing data, or both, and were ineligible for inclusion in a narrative synthesis. We identified 21 eligible studies (137,281 children) that reported the safety outcomes of interest. We judged seven studies to be at high risk of bias and those remaining, at unclear risk. The pooled RR was 0.94 for all-cause SAEs (95% CI 0.78 to 1.15; I2 = 0%; 15 studies, 38,072 children). For every 1000 children primed with a first dose of wP, 11 had an SAE. The corresponding risk with aP was 12 children (95% CI 9 to 13). The 95% CI around the risk difference ranged from three fewer to two more events per 1000 children, and the certainty of the evidence was judged as moderate (downgraded one level for imprecision). No diagnoses of encephalopathy following vaccination were reported (95% CI around the risk difference - 5 to 12 per 100,000 children; seven primary series studies; 115,271 children). The certainty of the evidence was judged as low, since this is a serious condition, and we could not exclude a clinically meaningful difference. Authors' conclusions: There is very low-certainty evidence that a first dose of wP given early in infancy, compared to a first dose of aP, affects the risk of atopic diseases in children. The incidence of all-cause SAEs in wP and aP vaccinees was low, and no cases of encephalopathy were reported. The certainty of the evidence was judged as moderate for all-cause SAEs, and low for encephalopathy. Future studies should use sensitive and specific endpoints of clinical relevance, and should be conducted in settings with high prevalence of IgE-mediated food allergy. Safety endpoints should prioritise common vaccine reactions, parental acceptability, SAEs and their potential relatedness to the dose administered.




Perez Chacon, G., Ramsay, J., Brennan-Jones, C. G., Estcourt, M. J., Richmond, P., Holt, P., & Snelling, T. (2021). Whole-cell pertussis vaccine in early infancy for the prevention of allergy in children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2021(9). https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD013682.pub2

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