Tougher vaccine targets ‘could help save millions of undernourished kids’

There are not enough early-health workers to keep up with the demand of a growing population of children with complex needs, a new study of children born to underprivileged couples in Africa and Latin America concludes.

It found that vaccines were not the only point of protection for infants from premature birth, low birth weight, HIV/AIDS, malaria, respiratory tract infections, malnutrition and other serious disease. The study of parents of children born in six African countries and Latin America found that children with complex needs needed much more than routine vaccines, particularly when other medical interventions were not sufficient to address these issues.

“If we had less stress and anxiety over the best level of vaccine coverage and the relationship between vaccines and medical interventions, we could see stronger impact for these children,” said Dr. Robert W. Blendon, one of the study’s authors, a senior public health researcher at Harvard University’s School of Public Health. “These are kids whose health needs are extraordinarily complicated.”

The study is due to be published on Monday, Oct. 1 in the journal Pediatrics.

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