The Introduction of Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis and Oral Polio Vaccine Among Young Infants in an Urban African Community: A Natural Experiment

Background

We examined the introduction of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) and oral polio vaccine (OPV) in an urban community in Guinea-Bissau in the early 1980s.

Methods

The child population had been followed with 3-monthly nutritional weighing sessions since 1978. From June 1981 DTP and OPV were offered from 3 months of age at these sessions. Due to the 3-monthly intervals between sessions, the children were allocated by birthday in a ‘natural experiment’ to receive vaccinations early or late between 3 and 5 months of age. We included children who were < 6 months of age when vaccinations started and children born until the end of December 1983. We compared mortality between 3 and 5 months of age of DTP-vaccinated and not-yet-DTP-vaccinated children in Cox proportional hazard models.

Results

Among 3–5-month-old children, having received DTP (± OPV) was associated with a mortality hazard ratio (HR) of 5.00 (95% CI 1.53–16.3) compared with not-yet-DTP-vaccinated children. Differences in background factors did not explain the effect. The negative effect was particularly strong for children who had received DTP-only and no OPV (HR = 10.0 (2.61–38.6)). All-cause infant mortality after 3 months of age increased after the introduction of these vaccines (HR = 2.12 (1.07–4.19)).

Conclusion

DTP was associated with increased mortality; OPV may modify the effect of DTP.”

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