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Childhood Vaccines Vindicated Once More

No link to autism found in large review of previous research on measles, mumps, rubella vaccine


In their study, the researchers reported their findings on vaccines for children 6 and under, based on a systematic review of 67 previous studies. The researchers also included information from the more than 1,000 studies in a previous review done by the Institute of Medicine in 2011.

Although they found no link between vaccines and autism or leukemia, they did find some very rare links between certain vaccines and children's health problems.

For example, the rotavirus vaccine is associated with an increased risk of intussusception, a serious disorder in which part of the intestine slides into an adjacent part of the intestine, causing blockage of the bowels.

"The rate is about one in 100,000 to five in 100,000, so it is extremely rare," Maglione said of the rotavirus link. Rotavirus is a common cause of sometimes severe gastrointestinal infections in babies and young children.

The evidence also indicated a link between MMR vaccine and febrile seizures, which are convulsions brought on by a fever in infants and small children.

Gidengil noted that illnesses and viruses also can cause the type of high fever that results in febrile seizures. She added that these seizures are generally harmless, a view supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

"They can be frightening for parents to witness, but there's no evidence that it causes long-term brain damage," she said.

Doctors are fighting against their own success in the struggle to emphasize the importance of vaccination, Byington said.

"We live in such a safe environment in the United States and our public health is excellent, so people don't have a memory of what it was like before," she said.

But Byington herself has witnessed the ravages of infectious disease firsthand. As a medical student and resident, she was present during the largest measles outbreak in recent U.S. history, from 1989 to 1990 in Houston.

"I saw myself about 1,000 cases of measles in children. I saw six pregnant women and their babies die," she said. "These things stay with you, because knowing it was all preventable, it is heartbreaking."


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