More MS news articles for Dec 2001

Vaccines do not lead to serious illness, studies find

12/17/2001 - Updated 08:59 PM ET
By Anita Manning, USA TODAY

CHICAGO Concerns that vaccines may occasionally trigger serious illnesses, including multiple sclerosis, diabetes and autism, are not borne out in a variety of studies on vaccine safety, researchers reported here Monday.
Experts at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology presented summaries of safety data on vaccines that prevent measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), hepatitis B and Lyme disease.

In a study to determine whether the Lyme disease vaccine causes arthritis, Arnold Chan of the Harvard School of Public Health says interim results based on records of 5,000 vaccinated and 14,000 unvaccinated people show a slightly higher percentage of arthritis-related diagnoses in vaccinated people (15.8%) compared with the unvaccinated (13.9%).

But a review of 25% of those reports found only five confirmed cases of arthritis among vaccinated people; 15 confirmed among the unvaccinated. "So far, there is no signal for an increase in risk" among the vaccinated, Chan says.

The reported link between the MMR vaccine, autism and inflammatory bowel disease doesn't hold up to scientific scrutiny, says Neal Halsey of Johns Hopkins University. Some evidence suggests autism is caused by an abnormality that occurs before birth in genetically predisposed babies, Halsey says, but reports of symptoms appearing in toddlers shortly after they get the MMR shot have raised fears of a causal relationship.

Some parents and a handful of researchers say there also is a link between the vaccine and intestinal disorders, which they say are common in autistic children. But Halsey says studies have been unable to establish a cause-and-effect connection between the vaccine and autism, nor is the rate of gastrointestinal disorders higher in autistic children than in others.

The hepatitis B vaccine, which protects against serious liver disease, has been linked to multiple sclerosis (MS) in adults and to sudden infant death in babies and the onset of juvenile (type 1) diabetes and none of these associations appears valid, says Frank DeStefano of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A French study found "persuasive evidence against an association" between the vaccine and MS, he says. The CDC is doing a similar study that looks at patients with MS and their vaccination history and "we're not finding any increased risk (of developing MS) overall, or within a year of vaccination," DeStefano says.

The vaccine also is safe for kids, he says, noting a drop in incidences of sudden infant death syndrome during a period when an increasing number of babies were vaccinated against hepatitis B. And a study involving 252 children with type 1 diabetes compared with non-diabetic kids found "no correlation between diabetes and the hepatitis B vaccine," he says.

In a separate presentation, a researcher from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison reported promising results from early studies of a vaccine to prevent recurring urinary tract infections in women. Walter Hopkins says 10% to 15% of women experience three or more bladder infections every year, requiring frequent use of antibiotics.

The experimental vaccine, being developed with funding from the National Institutes of Health, is given as a vaginal suppository. In studies involving 54 women, 55% of those who got monthly immunization had no infections for six months, while 89% of those given a placebo experienced infections.

Additional studies will begin soon.
© Copyright 2001 USA TODAY