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Kids' Vaccines: No Link to Unrelated Diseases

Study Shows Multiple Childhood Vaccines Don't Lead to Other Illnesses

Looking for Disease Links continued...

"The exact finding was there was a 5% increased risk for upper-respiratory-infection hospitalizations with Hib vaccine," Hviid says. "At 5% this risk has no clinical significance, even if it is a real finding. And we believe it is a chance finding."

Why blame the single positive vaccine/disease link on chance?

  • If the vaccine caused the respiratory infections, you'd expect to see most of these infections soon after vaccination. But the cases didn't cluster this way.
  • If the vaccine caused the infections, kids who got the most vaccine would be most likely to get sick. But the kids who got the most Hib vaccinations were no more likely to get respiratory infections than those who got just one dose.

Combination Vaccines, Multiple Vaccinations Safe

"I view the data as very reassuring," Orenstein says. "The Denmark study adds a lot more strength to other studies showing that multiple vaccinations are safe. And it looks at a number of different vaccines and a number of different schedules and has multiple comparisons that weren't in the other studies. It reinforces the prior Institute of Medicine conclusions that these theoretical issues don't seen to be borne out in human experience."

One might argue that Danish kids don't get exactly the same vaccines as U.S. kids.

"It is not the U.S. childhood immunization schedule per se, but the vaccinations are a lot of times the same ones we use," Orenstein says. "The conceptual framework is the same."

Getting vaccinated against 12 diseases may sound like a lot. But that's nothing compared to what the body faces in the real world, says Frank DeStefano, MD, MPH, acting director of the CDC's immunization safety office.

"The body is always in contact with all kinds of bacteria and viruses -- thousands and thousands of them -- and our bodies, even the bodies of infants, handle that well," DeStefano tells WebMD. "Vaccinations are minuscule compared to what the body is bombarded with on a daily basis."

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