Study: No Significant Rise in Seizure Risk From Common
TUESDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Children who receive a
combination vaccine known as DTaP-IPV-Hib have no significant
increased risk of febrile seizure, a convulsion triggered by a
fever, during the week after vaccination, researchers in Denmark
The vaccine protects children from five life-threatening
illnesses: diptheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio
Haemophilus influenzae type b, a bacterium that causes
The study also found no association between febrile seizures and
developing epilepsy, a seizure disorder.
"These data indicate there is no significant risk associated with the combined DTaP-IPV-Hib vaccine," said Dr. Gary Freed, director of the child health evaluation and research unit at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, who was not involved with the study. "There is no increased risk of epilepsy, and the risk of febrile seizures in the seven days following immunization showed no differences between those who were vaccinated and those who weren't."
The study is in the Feb. 22 issue of the
Journal of the American Medical Association.
According to the U.S. National Institute of Neurological
Disorders and Stroke, about one in 25 children, mainly between 6
months and 5 years old, will have at least one febrile seizure.
They typically outgrow them.
Although scary for parents, febrile seizures are harmless, said
Dr. David Kimberlin, a professor of pediatrics at University of
Alabama at Birmingham. "They're not dangerous at all," Kimberlin
The full name for DTaP-IPV-Hib vaccine is "diphtheria-tetanus
toxoids-acellular pertussis-inactivated poliovirus-Haemophilus
influenzae type b."
In the study, researchers from Aarhus University analyzed
records on nearly 400,000 children given the combined vaccine.
In Denmark, children get the combination vaccine at 3, 5 and 12
months. The U.S. vaccine schedule calls for kids' initial doses at
2, 4 and 6 months and a slightly different version of the pertussis
vaccine, Kimberlin noted.
Slightly more than 2 percent of children (7,811) were diagnosed
with febrile seizures before 18 months.
Researchers found a slightly increased risk of febrile seizures
on the day of the first and second vaccine doses, but not on the
day of the third vaccine dose.
And overall, children didn't have higher risks of febrile
seizures the first week after the vaccinations compared with a
group of children not vaccinated in the last week. The absolute
risk of any one child having a febrile seizure remained very low --
about one for every 25,000 children vaccinated.
Experts say it's crucial for parents to get their children
vaccinated on schedule to protect the kids -- and others around
them -- from potentially devastating illnesses.
"The most important thing is parents continuing to get their kids immunized on schedule. The longer parents wait, the more their children are at risk of life-threatening diseases," Freed said.
Kimberlin suspects that the kids who had febrile seizures around
the time of vaccination were probably already getting sick, the
vaccine pushed their temperature up a little higher, "and they had
the seizure a little bit sooner than they would have otherwise," he
Parental surveys and other research have documented a sizable
contingent of parents who mistrust vaccines and who are either not
getting their kids vaccinated, or who aren't getting their kids
immunized on the recommended schedule.
Some of the fears stemmed from a long-since discredited report
linking the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to autism. That study was
formally retracted by the journal that published it, and nearly all
of the authors have repudiated it.
In 2010, California experienced the worse outbreak of pertussis
in 60 years. At least 10 infants died during the outbreak,
according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Dr. Roya Samuels, a pediatrician at Cohen Children's Medical
Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., said numerous nationwide outbreaks
of pertussis raise concerns about waning immunity in older
children, teenagers and adults. "It is imperative that infants be
fully vaccinated against this potentially life-threatening
illness," she said.
Kimberlin added that other diseases are out there as well.
Diptheria, a serious respiratory disease, still circulates in
Russia, for example. "It's 12 hours away from us right now,"
Polio, which can leave children paralyzed, is close to being
eradicated worldwide, because of vaccines.
"At the turn of the 20th century, 16 of every 100 kids died of an infectious disease before age 5," Kimberlin added. "It was the norm to bury a child. It's not anymore and the reason is because of vaccines. Parents, please don't turn your back on this lifeline."
Check out the recommended vaccine schedule for kids and adults
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
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