August 25, 2011

Few Health Problems Are Caused By Vaccines

A report on over 1,000 research articles has found that few health problems are caused by or clearly associated with vaccines.

Experts from the Institute of Medicine reviewed the scientific literature on possible adverse effects of vaccines and found convincing evidence of 14 health outcomes caused by certain vaccines.  These outcomes include seizures, inflammation of the brain, and fainting. 

The review also found evidence that there are no links between immunization and some serious conditions that have raised concerns, including Type 1 diabetes and autism.

According to the report, the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine can lead to fever-triggered seizures in some individuals. 

The vaccine can also produce a rare form of brain inflammation in some people with severe immune system deficiencies. 

The varicella vaccine against chickenpox was found to induce brain swelling, pneumonia, hepatitis, meningitis, shingles, and chickenpox in immunocompromized patients. 

Other evidence obtained by the review found that certain vaccines can lead to four other adverse effects.  The MMR vaccine triggers short-term joint pain in some women and children.  Also, some people can experience anaphylaxis after receiving the HPV vaccine.

The review also found that certain vaccines are not linked to four specific conditions.  The MMR vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (DTaP) do not cause Type 1 diabetes, and the MMR vaccine does not cause autism, according to the review. 

"With the start of the new school year, it's time to ensure that children are up to date on their immunizations, making this report's findings about the safety of these eight vaccines particularly timely," committee chair Ellen Wright Clayton, professor of pediatrics and law, and director, Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, said in a press release.

"The findings should be reassuring to parents that few health problems are clearly connected to immunizations, and these effects occur relatively rarely. And repeated study has made clear that some health problems are not caused by vaccines."

The study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 


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