The findings, reported in the January issue of Pediatric Nephrology, are critical for chronic kidney disease patients, particularly children who will eventually undergo a kidney transplant. After transplantation, immunosuppressive medications put these children at high risk for severe chicken pox complications, including pneumonia, brain inflammation, and death.
"We recommend pediatric nephrologists include chicken pox vaccination as an important component of pre-end-stage renal disease and end-stage renal disease care," said the study's lead author, Susan L. Furth, M.D, Ph.D., a pediatric nephrologist at the Children's Center.
Varicella vaccine contains small doses of weakened strains of the chicken pox virus that activate immune system "memory" and mount a protective response to subsequent exposures.
In healthy children under 12 years of age, vaccination in a single dose is recommended, while two doses are recommended for adolescents. Without vaccination, infections in children whose immune systems have been weakened by a genetic disorder, disease, or medical treatment can cause serious complications.
In a multi-center, prospective, three-year clinical trial, Hopkins researchers, with the cooperation of the Southwest Pediatric Nephrology Study Group, identified 96 children with chronic kidney disease with no history of chicken pox. About half of these patients did not have detectable varicella antibodies. Each child received two injections of varicella vaccine, rather than the one dose typically given to healthy children. The doses were administered four to eight weeks apart.
One child developed chicken pox following a known exposure. There were no reported serious side effects following vaccination. Ele
Contact: Jessica Collins
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions