August 22, 2011
Swine Flu Could Trigger Sleeping Disorders
A new study says that swine flu infections could trigger a rare sleeping disorder.
The new study claims that rates of narcolepsy peak five to seven months after the highest levels of H1N1 infections and colds.
The new research goes against some concerns that Pandemrix caused sleeping disorders in children in Finland.
Researchers from Stanford medicine school in California said their study suggests that restrictions on the vaccine could actually lead to higher rates of infection.
Emmanuel Mignot, an expert on narcolepsy, writes in a new paper: “Together with recent findings, these results strongly suggest that winter airway infections such as influenza A (including H1N1), and/or Streptococcus pyogenes are triggers for narcolepsy."
“The new finding of an association with infection, and not vaccination, is important as it suggests that limiting vaccination because of a fear of narcolepsy could actually increase overall risk.”
After the swine flu outbreak in 2009, about 30 million people in Europe were given the vaccine Pandemrix.
However, its safety was questioned by health officials in Finland and 335 cases of narcolepsy have been reported in people vaccinated with Pandemrix.
The European Medicine Agency (EMA) said that as a precautionary measure, the vaccines should only be given to those under 20-years-old if they are at risk of contracting swine flu.
The agency said that seven out of every 100,000 adolescents who are given the injection develop narcolepsy.
However, the agency said the recommendations are not official and that Pandemrix would not be restricted across Europe.
The new Stanford research casts more doubt that the vaccine is linked to Pandemrix.
The paper said previous studies have suggested some people have genetic predispositions to swine flu and develop sleeping disorders after infection affects their immune systems.
The researchers looked at 906 patients in Beijing who had been diagnosed with the sleeping disorder between 1998 and earlier this year, and found that the onset was seasonal.
The swine flu is most common in April and least common in November, and seemed to come about five and seven months after the seasonal peak in cold, flu or H1N1 infections.
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