Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccination at birth seems to prevent the development of allergies, according to a report by a multinational group of investigators.
Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccination at birth seems to prevent the development of allergies, according to a report by a multinational group of investigators. The BCG vaccine is used in many developing countries to protect against tuberculosis. However, it is not used in many developed countries including the United States where asthma has been on the increase for some time. Dr. R. G. Townley and colleagues looked at the effect of BCG vaccine on the development of allergic disease in 1704 newborns vaccinated at birth in Thailand, Argentina, and Turkey and followed until the age of about 2 years. A positive test showing exposure to TB or the vaccine seemed to be protective against allergies, the team reports in the March issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. For infants in Thailand and Turkey but not Argentina, having a negative test result was associated with a statistically significantly increased risk of having an allergic history at age 2. In their report, Townley, from Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska, and colleagues say this study supports “continued interest in using the BCG vaccine in allergic disease attenuation or treatment.” They point out that BCG vaccination “showed a therapeutic effect” in a recent study of Korean adults with moderate-to-severe asthma. (Source: Annals of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, Reuters Health, April 2004)