evidence-based blog of Filippo Dibari

The effect of a vaccination program on child anthropometry: evidence from India’s Universal Immunization Program.

In Under-nutrition on June 3, 2012 at 8:08 am

by TD Anekwe and S Kumar

J Public Health, May 18, 2012

BACKGROUND: Childhood vaccination may protect children’s nutritional status and lead to improved child growth in developing countries. This study evaluates the effect of India’s childhood vaccination program Universal Immunization Program (UIP) on the growth of children under 4 years of age.

METHODS: Regression models were estimated to examine the effect of UIP on vaccination status and children’s anthropometric outcomes. Regression models were also estimated to test whether UIP’s effect was uniform across various subpopulations of Indian children.

RESULTS: UIP increased height-for-age among Indian children who were <4 years of age in 1992-1993, resulting in a 17-22% reduction in the height-for-age-deficit of the average child. The program appears to have had no effect on other anthropometric indicators or vaccination status. UIP also led to differential changes in anthropometry and vaccination status, based on differences in maternal education and scheduled-caste status.

CONCLUSIONS: UIP led to improved child growth. This suggests that vaccination programs-in addition to being a major intervention for reducing child mortality-might be considered a tool for mitigating undernutrition in developing countries. This study also adds to the growing evidence that childhood vaccination programs are high-return investments because they produce long-term health benefits for children.

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