Melbourne Infant Study: BCG for Allergy and Infection Reduction (MIS BAIR)

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Can Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination influence the development of an infant’s immune system so that it’s better at fighting infections and is less prone to allergy? 

Since 2015, this study has been investigating whether a 100-year-old vaccine developed to prevent tuberculosis, BCG vaccine, could also help reduce allergies, eczema, infections and asthma in infants and children.

Since 2015, this study has been investigating whether a 100-year-old vaccine developed to prevent tuberculosis, BCG vaccine, could also help reduce allergies, eczema, infections and asthma in infants and children.

Overview

Since 2015, this study has been investigating whether a 100-year-old vaccine developed to prevent tuberculosis, called Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, could also help reduce allergies, eczema, infections and asthma in infants and children.

Why is this research important?

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Allergies

One in 10 Melbourne infants develop a food allergy by 12 months of age.

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Eczema

Almost a third of babies suffer from eczema before their first birthday.

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Chest infection

Nearly half of infants will have a chest infection in the first year of life.

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Asthma

Around 10 percent of children under 14 have asthma as a long-term condition.


What is the MIS BAIR study?

Investigating the immune boosting effects of BCG vaccine in Australian children, led by Professor Nigel Curtis.

msbair logo v5Until the 1980s, Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine was given to Australian children to prevent tuberculosis (TB). Routine administration was discontinued because of the country’s low prevalence of TB.

However, BCG is still administered to over 120 million infants worldwide each year. In high-mortality countries, neonatal BCG vaccination is associated with a halving in mortality in the first year of life. Research also shows the 100-year-old vaccine boosts immunity to protect against respiratory viral infections.

To find out more, in 2015, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute launched the MIS BAIR trial led by Chief Investigator Professor Nigel Curtis. The global study team is exploring the immune boosting effects of BCG in Melbourne children and whether this vaccine can reduce the risk of diseases such as food allergy, eczema and asthma.

Ultimately, by understanding the 'off-target' effects of BCG vaccine, the study could change the trajectory of children’s health and contribute to decreased childhood allergies and infections.

MIS BAIR part one

Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the MIS BAIR randomised controlled trial recruited over 1200 babies with half receiving the BCG vaccine within 10 days of birth. Investigators studied differences between the two groups during the first year of life, looking for the causes and signs of food allergy, eczema and infections.

MIS BAIR part two

Thanks to additional funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), part two of the study extends the original MIS BAIR project. The study team has continued to compare children in the original two groups until age five, looking at the same clinical outcomes with the addition of asthma.

Flagship AllergyHow common is childhood allergy in Australia?

Allergic diseases have risen dramatically over the past few decades in Australia. In fact, we now have the highest documented rates worldwide.

  • Almost a third of babies have suffered from eczema by 12 months of age.
  • One in 10 will have an allergy to at least one food at one year of age.
  • One in 10 Australians suffer from asthma.

What is the BCG vaccine?

BCG vaccine is used to prevent tuberculosis (TB). Given at birth, it is one of the oldest, most widely used and well-tolerated vaccines.

The vaccine is routinely given to babies in many developed countries, including Ireland and some parts of the UK and Europe. This vaccine is no longer routinely given in Australia, as we are fortunate to have very low rates of TB.

Can BCG reduce allergy and infection?

BCG vaccine has been found to have beneficial effects on the immune system over and above its protective effect against TB.

Studies suggest the vaccine may help prevent infection as well as reduce allergic diseases such as eczema, food allergy, hay fever and asthma.

Prevention of infant eczema by neonatal BCG vaccination-the MIS BAIR randomised controlled trial

Hear from Dr Laure Pittet, a paediatrician at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and The University of the Melbourne, as she discusses early MIS BAIR findings. Laure explains how the MIS BAIR trial found that neonatal BCG vaccination reduces the risk of eczema at 12 months of age, particularly in high-risk infants.
Hear from Dr Laure Pittet, a paediatrician at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and The University of the Melbourne, as she discusses early MIS BAIR findings. Laure explains how the MIS BAIR trial found that neonatal BCG vaccination reduces...
Hear from Dr Laure Pittet, a paediatrician at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and The University of the Melbourne, as she discusses early MIS BAIR findings. Laure explains how the MIS BAIR trial found that neonatal BCG vaccination reduces the risk of eczema at 12 months of age, particularly in high-risk infants.
Professor Nigel Curtis

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