A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that the rotavirus vaccine, which protects infants and young children against bacteria that causes severe diarrhea, significantly reduces the cost of providing health care for kids.

The CDC says that before vaccines were introduced in 2006, rotavirus was responsible for about 400,000 visits to doctor's offices, 200,000 emergency room visits, 55,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations, and 20 to 60 deaths each year in children under 5 years old.  By the 2008-2009 rotavirus "season" (January to June), the study found that vaccinated children had 44 to 58 percent fewer diarrhea-related hospitalizations and 37 to 48 percent fewer emergency room visits for diarrhea than unvaccinated children.

The CDC estimates health care savings of $278 million, directly attributable to the success of the vaccine.

"This study provides more evidence that vaccinating against rotavirus substantially reduces suffering and health care costs for this common childhood illness," said Dr. Mark Pallansch, director of CDC's Division of Viral Diseases, in a statement. "As more children get vaccinated against rotavirus, we expect to see even greater reductions in disease among all age groups."