August 31, 2020
It has long been known that metabolic health corresponds to vaccine effectiveness as well as general immunity against disease. Elderly individuals fair poorly in both categories as aging is often associated with increased metabolic disease, decrease immune activation and antibody production. Most of these issues are related to lifestyle dietary choices as COVID19 has laid bare.
Children are much better at developing immune responses, however,
this can be compromised by poor metabolic status, prematurity and being younger than 6 months of age. This is believed to be primarily driven by pregnancy and post-partum maternal nutritional health in this first 6 months of a child's life. Therefore, it is critical that we address these issues with nursing mothers and their babes. (Obanewa et. al. 2017)
Looking at the literature that is reasonable for developing countries, but non existent for the developed world, we can settle on a few things. Neonatal iron status is important, gut health is important, breast feeding is a massive plus and micronutrient balance appears to be important in general.
In a recent study by Stoffel and colleagues in the Journal Frontiers in Immunology, we see a report of weaker antibody responses to vaccination in children with low iron stores. (Stoffel et. al. 2020) In a study by Dr. Okala published in PlosMedicine in 2019, her group had this to say, "According to our results from rural Gambia, maternal supplementation with MMN combined with PE during pregnancy enhanced antibody responses to the DTP vaccine in early infancy. Provision of nutritional supplements to pregnant women in food insecure settings may improve infant immune development and responses to EPI vaccines." (Okala et. al. 2019)
Without any data to guide us in the United States, what should we do? I fall back on the simplest of rules, what were we supposed to do? What was mom supposed to do?
In a country replete with financial governmental ability, we should absolutely provide women and children with adequate nourishment, promote breastfeeding, supplement with prenatal vitamins and vaccinate to prevent the meaningless loss of life to preventable diseases.
We should and must encourage mothers to eat healthy, avoid toxins, breastfeed, take their prenatal vitamins and exercise. Then, it is my belief that the immune system of mom and child will be the most prepared for any insult moving forward. And, oh by the way, the interventions are safe and reasonable.
Hamer J Nutrition
High Clinical Infectious Diseases
Davison American J Lifestyle Medicine
Stoffel Frontiers in Immunology
Prendergast Phiolosophical Trans Royal Society
Obanewa Future Biology
Field J Nutrition