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The effect of a vaccination program on child anthropometry: evidence from India’s Universal Immunization Program
Authors: Tobenna D. Anekwe, Santosh Kumar
Source: Journal of Public Health, Dec;34(4):489-97. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fds032. Epub 2012 May 18.
Topic(s): Child health
Immunization
Country: Asia
  India
Published: DEC 2012
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Childhood vaccination may protect children's nutritional status and lead to improved child growth in developing countries. This study evaluates the effect of India's childhood vaccination program Universal Immunization Program (UIP) on the growth of children <4 years of age. METHODS: Regression models were estimated to examine the effect of UIP on vaccination status and children's anthropometric outcomes, as well as to test whether UIP's effect was uniform across various subpopulations of Indian children. RESULTS: UIP increased height-for-age and weight-for-age among children. This effect constituted a 22-25% reduction in the height-for-age deficit and a 15% reduction in the weight-for-age deficit of the average child. The program appears to have had no effect on other anthropometric indicators or vaccination status. UIP also led to differential changes in anthropometry and vaccination status, based on differences in wealth, maternal education and scheduled-caste status. CONCLUSIONS: UIP led to improved child growth. This suggests that vaccination programs-in addition to being a major intervention for reducing child mortality-might be considered a tool for mitigating undernutrition in developing countries. This study also adds to the growing evidence that childhood vaccination programs are high-return investments because they produce long-term health benefits for children.