Childhood vaccine slightly increases seizure risk

  • Tue Feb 21st, 2012 4:23pm
  • News

Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — An injection for children that combines the vaccines for several major infectious disease causes a small increase in fever-related seizures in children, according to new research. However, fever-related seizures do not cause brain damage or lead to an increased risk of epilepsy.

Because the rate of fever-related seizures in children is already very low, researchers had to look at a large number of children to determine the seizure risk related to vaccination. They reviewed data from almost 400,000 children who received shots that combine the vaccines for pertussis, inactivated virus and Haemophilus influenzae type b. A child receives a shot at 3, 5 and 12 months of age to become fully inoculated.

Researchers found a slightly higher risk of seizure on the day of the first vaccination and on the day of the second vaccination but not on or after the third vaccination. The seizures that occurred were similar to fever-related seizures that are caused by other factors, such as illness. These seizures are typically harmless.

Studies on vaccine safety are important because a growing number of parents appear reluctant to have their children receive all of the recommended vaccines. As a result, the authors of the study said, outbreaks of pertussis and other infectious childhood illnesses are occurring more often.

The study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.