I started this article assured that vaccinations of infants with epilepsy was a definite no-no.
And boy, was I surprised.
Basically, medical research has proved me wrong. Real wrong.
Concerns about vaccine safety have led up to 40 percent of parents in the U.S. to delay or refuse some vaccines for their children in hopes of avoiding rare reactions.
Although, vaccines will prevent the deaths of tens of thousands of children born this year, why are so many parents in so many states making the dangerous decision to potentially opt out of one of the great achievements of modern medicine?
Pediatrician Dr. John Snyder explains: Concerns about vaccines tend to fall into several different categories including, but not limited to:
Vaccines cause diseases, including autism and autoimmune diseases…
Vaccines contain toxins, which can harm the body in unknown ways…
Too many vaccines given together can overwhelm the immune system…
Vaccines are unnecessary, and/or do not work.
A recent study found that delaying the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, in the second year of life, doubled the risk of a seizure occurring after the vaccination.
But delaying some vaccines, in addition to leaving children unprotected from disease longer, can actually increase the risk of fever-related seizures, according to a new study.
While some parents buy into the more extreme forms of anti-vaccine propaganda, most understand that vaccines are responsible for the dramatic decline in the incidence of horrible diseases and that they are generally safe.
However, they may falsely conclude that because these diseases are now so rare, they no longer need to be as vigilant about vaccinating their children.
This makes it easier for parents, who don’t necessarily buy into the full anti-vaccine mythology, to take a “play it safe” approach and accept some form of alternate vaccination strategy.
One explanation is that these parents are misinformed, seduced by the false claims like the myth that vaccines cause autism.
If so, giving them accurate information might change their minds about protecting their children against communicable diseases like measles — a near-eradicated disease that has flared anew.
“It is difficult to explain to these parents that until the diseases are truly eradicated from the planet, we must keep vaccinating everyone; that everyone needs to be vaccinated to maintain herd immunity for those too young to be vaccinated, for those who cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons, and for those for whom the vaccines do not work.”
All that said, although vaccinations have their many benefits, it does not guarantee that vaccinated children with epilepsy will not experience seizures.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concluded that there was no relationship between receiving vaccines and experiencing seizures for children in the first year of life.
However, in the second year of life, children who received the MMR vaccine (measles-mumps-rubella) between 12 and 15 months old, when it’s recommended, were about 2.6 times more likely to experience a seizure than they would be without being vaccinated at that time.
This number translates to about one seizure out of every 4,000 children receiving the vaccine.
Yet, if parents delayed the MMR vaccine until any time between 16 and 23 months, the risk of a seizure was 6.5 times greater than when not being vaccinated.
That means that waiting to get the MMR vaccination more than doubles the risk of a seizure occurring in the one to two weeks after vaccination.
Autism is an extremely rare side-effect of vaccinations. Serious complications related to vaccines are very rare, and there is no evidence that immunizations cause autism, according to an analysis of 67 research studies.
The analysis comes as many vaccine-preventable diseases are making a comeback, often in communities with low vaccination rates.
At least 539 people across 20 states have been infected with measles this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This report should give parents some reassurance,” says pediatrician Courtney Gidengil of Rand and Boston Children’s Hospital, co-author of the study out today in Pediatrics.
The report says there is “strong evidence” that the measles vaccine is not associated with an increased risk of autism. That myth gained popularity in 1998 because of a medical study that has been retracted. Still, the myth persists.
Up to 80 percent of Dravet Syndrome children have mutations in the SCN1A gene.
Anne McIntosh of the University of Melbourne’s Epilepsy Research Centre and colleagues observed “These kids already had that genetic abnormality, (so) regardless of the relationship with the vaccine, they would have actually had that disorder happen to them anyway.
Essentially, there is no proof that people should not be vaccinated … from concerns about it causing the onset of that disease.”
About 2%-5% of young children will have at least one febrile seizure.
Most febrile seizures occur in children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. And a child who has already had a febrile seizure is more likely to have another one.
Also if a member of a child’s immediate family (a brother, sister, or parent) has had febrile seizures, that child is more likely to have a febrile seizure.
Studies have shown that there is a small increased risk for febrile seizures during the first to second week after the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccination and the first dose of measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (MMRV) vaccine.
Several studies of children in the United States in previous influenza seasons have shown no increased risk for febrile seizures following receipt of seasonal flu vaccines.
One study evaluated more than 45,000 children aged 6 months through 23 months of age who received influenza vaccines during 1991 through 2003 and did not find any association with seizures.
The study’s lead author, the University of Calgary’s Dr. Shannon MacDonald, said that although febrile seizures are not typically associated with long-term health problems, they are still stressful for parents.
“Febrile seizures are typically self-limiting and rarely have long-term effects, but they can be extremely distressing for parents, may precipitate acute care visits and may undermine confidence in immunization programs,” she said in a statement.
Vaccination still ‘the best option’.
However, MacDonald notes that the absolute risk of febrile seizures from the vaccine is still very low, and the seizure risk from measles is much higher.
“We know from this study that the risks of febrile seizures from the disease are tenfold higher than the risk from this vaccine.
If you look at the absolute risk, we’re talking about three to four seizures for every 10,000 doses of the vaccine given, so the absolute risk is very small.
But it’s something that parents should be aware of. Parents need to know what the benefits and risks of the vaccines are.”
However, and this is important to note; the risk of seizures for children who received the combined vaccine in the first seven to 10 days after vaccination, was double the risk for children who received the separate vaccine, according to the study.
This amounted to about one extra seizure for every 2,841 doses administered in the first seven to 10 days after vaccination.
The researchers said that while the risk for children who receive the combined vaccine is double, the absolute risk is still relatively small.
Dr. MacDonald, said “The evidence is very clear that parents should continue to vaccinate their children, that is absolutely the safest course of action. The risks of a febrile seizure from the disease are tenfold higher than the risk from the vaccine.”
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Other articles of interest:
Measles Outbreak In Ohio Leads Amish To Reconsider Vaccines http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/06/24/323702892/measles-outbreak-in-ohio-leads-amish-to-reconsider-vaccines?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20140624&utm_campaign=dailydigest&utm_term=nprnews
Report: U.S. Plagued by 20-Year High in Measles Cases http://www.usnews.com/news/newsgram/articles/2014/05/29/report-us-plagued-by-20-year-high-in-measles-cases?src=usn_fb
Putting Us All at Risk for Measles http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/06/26/putting-us-all-at-risk-for-measles/?emc=edit_hh_20140701&nl=health&nlid=27745593&ref=healthupdate