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No Childhood Vaccination-Diabetes Link

Childhood Vaccines Not Associated With Type 1 Diabetes Risk
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Vaccinations Don't Increase Diabetes Risk

In the study, researchers looked at all the children born in Denmark from 1990 to 2000 for whom detailed information on vaccinations and type 1 diabetes was available.

Among this group of 739,694 children, 681 were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Researchers compared the risk of developing the disease among unvaccinated children with children who had received at least one dose of the following common childhood vaccines and combinations:

  • Haemophilus influenzae type b
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, and inactivated poliovirus

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis, and inactivated poliovirus

  • Whole-cell pertussis vaccine

  • Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)

  • Oral poliovirus

The study showed that there was no significant increase in diabetes risk associated with single or escalating doses of any of the vaccines.

In addition, the study also looked at the period following vaccination and did not find any clustering of diabetes cases in the time period after vaccination.

An increase in the number of new type 1 diabetes cases in children within a few years following vaccination is often cited as a sign that the vaccines might be to blame in triggering the disease, but the study found no such clustering.

Finally, when researchers looked at children who were genetically predisposed for the development of type 1 diabetes because they had a sibling with the disease, they found no increase in risk among those who had been vaccinated compared with unvaccinated high-risk children.

Closing the Door on Vaccine-Diabetes Debate?

Hviid says it is always easier to come up with a hypothesis rather than to refute it, but this study comes as close as possible to closing the door on the debate on whether there's a cause-and-effect relationship between childhood vaccination and the development of type 1 diabetes.

"The design and size of this study makes our results very robust, and we couldn't find any indication of association," Hviid tells WebMD. "I can't see how it's going to be conducted larger or better anywhere else."

In an editorial that accompanies the study, Lynne Levitsky, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, agrees and says the results of study "conclusively demonstrate that there is no relationship between vaccination history and the development of type 1 diabetes.

"The scientific community should now move on to the most important tasks: identifying the genetic, immunologic, and environmental phenomena that are actually responsible for the development of diabetes and finding the means to prevent and treat this chronic disorder," says Levitsky.

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