Waning of Maternal Antibodies in Vaccinated Mothers

Waning of Maternal Antibodies Against Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Varicella in Communities With Contrasting Vaccination Coverage

  1. Sandra Waaijenborg1,3
  2. Susan J. M. Hahné1
  3. Liesbeth Mollema1
  4. Gaby P. Smits2,
  5. Guy A. M. Berbers2
  6. Fiona R. M. van der Klis2
  7. Hester E. de Melker1 and
  8. Jacco Wallinga1
+Author Affiliations
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology and Surveillance
  2. 2Laboratory for Infectious Diseases and Perinatal Screening, Centre for Infectious Disease Control, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven
  3. 3Julius Center for Health Research and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  1. Correspondence: Sandra Waaijenborg, PhD, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Centre for Infectious Disease Control, Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, PO Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, the Netherlands (sandra.waaijenborg@rivm.nl).
  1. Presented in part: European Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases, The Hague, the Netherlands (poster) June 2011. Partly presented as a poster at the Nordic Vaccine meeting, Copenhagen, 5–7 September 2012.



Background. The combined measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine has been successfully administered for >20 years. Because of this, protection by maternal antibodies in infants born to vaccinated mothers might be negatively affected.
Methods. A large cross-sectional serologic survey was conducted in the Netherlands during 2006–2007. We compared the kinetics of antibody concentrations in children and women of childbearing age in the highly vaccinated general population with those in orthodox Protestant communities that were exposed to outbreaks.
Results. The estimated duration of protection by maternal antibodies among infants in the general population, most of whom were born to vaccinated mothers, was short: 3.3 months for measles, 2.7 months for mumps, 3.9 months for rubella, and 3.4 months for varicella. The duration of protection against measles was 2 months longer for infants born in the orthodox communities, most of whom had unvaccinated mothers. For rubella, mothers in the orthodox communities had higher concentrations of antibodies as compared to the general population.
Conclusions. Children of mothers vaccinated against measles and, possibly, rubella have lower concentrations of maternal antibodies and lose protection by maternal antibodies at an earlier age than children of mothers in communities that oppose vaccination. This increases the risk of disease transmission in highly vaccinated populations.