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Childhood vaccines linked to rare health problems.

Certain common childhood vaccines may cause specific, but rare, health problems, according to a recent report by an Institute of Medicine committee.

The committee identified a causal relation between diphtheria, tetanus, and hepatitis B vaccines and anaphylaxis, a sudden, rare, and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It also established a causal relation between measles vaccine and death from measles infection; oral polio vaccine and death from polio infection; and measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and anaphylaxis and thrombocytopenia, which can result in severe bruising or prolonged bleeding. The committee noted that death from measles and polio infections occurred primarily in people with compromised immune systems.

At the other end of the spectrum, the committee found no causal relation between diphtheria and tetanus vaccines and encephalopathy (a disease that affects the functioning of the brain), infantile spasm, and sudden infant death syndrome. It also found no causal relation between conjugate type b vaccines (Hib) and the early onset of Hib infections like meningitis and pneumonia.

"It's our hope that this report contributes to worldwide efforts to protect children from infectious diseases," said committee chair Richard Johnston, Jr., a pediatrician and a medical director at the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation in White Plains, New York. "I vigorously support the continuation of research and development to produce vaccines that will do just that."

The study is the second of two requested by Congress in its 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, which established a federal compensation program for people who may have been injured by vaccines. For a copy of the study, "Adverse Events Associated with Childhood Vaccines: Evidence Bearing on Causality," write or call the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20418; tel. (800) 524-6242.
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Author:Cordes, Renee
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jan 1, 1994
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