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Epilepsy Health Center

Study Shows Small Seizure Risk From Vaccine

No Evidence of Epilepsy in Connection With MMR Vaccine
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Waiting for Information

"This is something that parents and physicians have been wanting information about for quite some time," he tells WebMD. "Actually, it's the kind of study that makes me jealous because they have lots of very good data and did a good job analyzing that data."

Davis was not involved in the new study. In his own work, which tracked some 300,000 getting the MMR vaccine and that for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, he also found no increased risk of later developing either epilepsy or autism from the shots.

During the Danish researcher's study period, almost 18,000 children of the 440,000 tracked developed febrile seizures, suggesting the events may be more common than previously believed.

But only 973 of the children who had seizures developed it within two weeks after getting the MMR vaccination, suggesting that the rest had seizures caused by other factors. And these 973 faced no greater risk of later epilepsy than those whose seizures resulted from another cause.

Benefits Outweigh Risks

This means that while the risk of febrile seizures from the vaccines may increase within a two-week period following the vaccine, it's only temporary, and there's little evidence of long-term problems.

"Overwhelmingly, the benefits (of childhood vaccines) outweigh the risks," says Davis. "Measles is a very serious disease and is one of the most common causes of death in countries that do not have adequate vaccination strategies."

His advice to parents: Breathe easier. Get your child vaccinated. And be vigilant, especially if there's a family history of epilepsy.

"Parents should continue to monitor their children and treat fever appropriately, and should seek medical advice if they are concerned," says Davis.

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