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Vaccine. 2011 Feb 1;29(6):1242-7. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2010.11.087. Epub 2010 Dec 13.

Maternal antibodies to rotavirus: could they interfere with live rotavirus vaccines in developing countries?

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Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.



Past experience with live oral vaccines including licensed rotavirus vaccines demonstrates a trend towards reduced vaccine efficacy in developing countries compared with developed countries. The reasons behind this disparity are not well understood. Transplacental transfer of maternal antibodies and breast milk ingestion may attenuate vaccine responses in infants in developing countries where rotavirus infections are endemic, and maternal antibody levels are high. We examined the prevalence and level of rotavirus antibody in maternal and cord serum, colostrum and breast milk in a developing country setting.


100 mother-infant pairs were prospectively recruited from December 2008 to February 2009 at Dr. Sardjito Hospital, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Maternal and cord sera were collected during delivery. Colostrum and transitional breast milk were collected between day 0-3 and day 7-10 postpartum respectively. Rotavirus-specific IgA and IgG were estimated for all specimens and virus neutralization assays were conducted on a subset of milk specimens.


All maternal and cord serum samples were positive for rotavirus-specific IgG antibodies with a strong correlation between levels of rotavirus-specific IgG in mothers and levels transferred to infants in cord blood (r=0.86; p=0.001). 78% of colostrum and 67% of transitional breast milk specimens were positive for rotavirus-specific IgA. There was a median 4-fold decrease in rotavirus-specific IgA from colostrum to transitional breast milk. Neutralizing antibodies were present in 56% of colostrum specimens assayed (19/34) and in 41% of transitional milk specimens assayed (14/34).


Maternal serum and breast milk antibodies to rotavirus are highly prevalent in a developing country setting. Evaluation of the impact of maternal anti-rotavirus serum and breast milk antibody upon vaccine immunogenicity would help to inform rotavirus vaccination strategies, especially in developing settings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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