Mystery Solved on How BCG Vaccine Saves Newborns From Diseases Other Than TB
Newborns in Africa are often given BCG vaccine a few weeks after birth to prevent TB. Doctors have however known that this vaccine also reduces deaths from other causes, but the way BCG does this has remained a mystery, until now.
Recent research revealed that BCG causes a rapid increase in a special type of blood cells called neutrophils soon after administration. This is important because neutrophils help fight off bacterial infections that cause of sepsis, a severe sickness that often leads to death in newborns. The researchers note that the benefit of BCG is so strong and important that babies should be get the vaccine even earlier than 6 weeks of life, which is when it is often administered now.