Not the Childhood Vaccine Risk You Were Expecting

While controversy continues to abound about vaccinating children, at least in some circles, a new study highlights a new risk: “Delaying some early childhood vaccinations seems to double the risk that a child will experience a vaccine-related febrile seizure.”

“‘The finding is concerning as more and more parents ask about delaying or spacing out vaccines to avoid perceived harm from giving “too many [vaccines], too close together,’ Dr. Simon J. Hambidge said at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies.”

According to the study’s findings, the increased risk is only for the “measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and for measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (MMRV)” vaccines:

“For babies who got the MMR on schedule, the IRR was 2.5, “corresponding to an attributable risk of about 1 [febrile seizure] in 4,000 doses,” Dr. Hambidge said. When the MMR was delayed until the baby was 16-23 months old, the IRR significantly increased to 7.7 – an attributable risk of about 2 seizures per 4,000 doses.  A similar doubling of risk with the delayed schedule occurred with the MMRV vaccine, he said. Given at the normal schedule of 12-15 months, the IRR was 4.6, a risk of about one febrile seizure for every 2,000 vaccine doses. But when the MMRV was given at 16-23 months, the IRR rose to just above 15 – doubling the attributable risk to about 2 febrile seizures per 2,000 doses.”

However, parents should be reassured by this closing statement:

“”Kids with postvaccination febrile seizures have acute febrile seizures. None have gone on to develop epilepsy or have lasting problems. So the seizures are scary for parents, but typically result in a trip to the emergency department and then recovery. Still, it’s better to get the vaccines on time, rather than late, to minimize this risk,” he said.”

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