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Pandemic influenza vaccination carries no increased epilepsy risk

06 Mar 2018

There appears to be no association between pandemic influenza vaccination and the risk of epilepsy among children, according to a study, which suggests concerns about the vaccination may be unwarranted.

In a cohort of 1,145,546 children aged <18 years, 572,875 (50.7 percent) were vaccinated against pandemic influenza. A total of 3,628 new cases of epilepsy were documented over a period of 5 years, yielding an incidence rate of 6.09 per 10,000 person-years.

No increase in the risk of epilepsy was observed following vaccination (hazard ratio, 1.07; 95 percent CI, 0.94–1.23). Data from the self-controlled case series were consistent with the finding of a lack of association between vaccination and subsequent epilepsy.

Although unclear, potential biological mechanisms that could explain a connection between inflammatory mechanisms, seizures and epilepsy may involve proinflammatory cytokines, which have been shown to increase in relation to febrile seizures. [Brain Dev 2007;29:425-430]

Viral infections can induce neural inflammation and cytokine release. Additionally, infections, vaccines and fever may trigger seizures, and some individuals may be predisposed to developing epilepsy after febrile seizure episodes. [Arch Dis Child 2007;92:589-593; Epilepsy Curr 2015;15:335-337; Epilepsy Res 2013;105:158-163; J Infect 2012;64:520-524]

Researchers noted that concerns regarding the role of vaccines as cause of neurologic and developmental disorders in children appear to be a barrier to participating in vaccination programmes. This has important implications, as low vaccination rates may have consequences for susceptible individuals with higher risk of influenza complications.

While the finding of no increased epilepsy risk after influenza vaccination is reassuring, additional large population-based studies exploring the risk of neurologic conditions after vaccinations should be conducted to address such concerns, researchers said.

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Most Read Articles
4 days ago
Chocolate consumption is not associated with risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke or both combined in postmenopausal women free of pre-existing major chronic disease, a study suggests.
Pearl Toh, 5 days ago
More intensive lowering of LDL-C levels was associated with a progressively greater survival benefit than less intensive approach, when the baseline LDL-C levels were ≥100 mg/dL, reveals a meta-analysis of 34 randomized trials.
4 days ago
Switching from thiazide diuretic to ipragliflozin, a sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor, leads to improvements in metabolic parameters and body mass composition without affecting blood pressure in type 2 diabetes (T2D) patients, a recent study has found.
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