Low titers of measles antibody in mothers whose infants suffered from measles before eligible age for measles vaccination
BACKGROUND: Resurgence or outbreak of measles recently occurred in both developed and developing countries despite long-standing widespread use of measles vaccine. Measles incidence in China has increased since 2002, particularly in infants and in persons ≥ 15 years of age. It is speculated that infants may acquire fewer measles IgG from their mothers, resulting in the reduced duration of protection during their early months of life. This study aimed to clarify the reason of increased susceptibility to measles in young infants in China. Measles IgG in 24 measles infants ≤ 9 months of age and their vaccinated mothers was quantitatively measured. The mean measles neutralizing titer in the vaccinated mothers and in 13 age-match women with the histories of clinical measles were compared. RESULTS: All the mothers were confirmed to be vaccinated successfully by the presence of measles IgG. Six vaccinated mothers were positive for measles IgM and had high concentrations of measles IgG and the neutralizing antibody, indicating underwent natural boosting. The mean measles neutralizing titer in 18 vaccinated mothers without natural boosting were significantly lower than that in 13 age-match women with the histories of clinical measles (1:37 vs 1:182, P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that infants born to mothers who acquired immunity to measles by vaccination may get a relatively small amount of measles antibody, resulting in loss of the immunity to measles before the vaccination age. Measures to improve the immunity in young infants not eligible for measles vaccination would be critical to interrupt the measles transmission in China.