Delaying vaccines increases seizure risk

The Pediatric Insider

© 2013 Roy Benaroch, MD

In a large study of a cohort of over 300,000 children, researchers this month showed that delaying the first dose of MMR—giving it even a few months after the recommended age of 12-15 months—approximately doubles the risk of febrile seizures.

Fortunately, febrile seizures themselves aren’t harmful. But they scare the heck out of parents. I think most families would agree that it’s best to minimize the risk.

There is an established, well-studied, safe and effective vaccine schedule. It’s what I recommend, it’s what the CDC recommends, it’s what every legitimate health authority here and around the world recommends. Then there are these made-up schedules, with no evidence at all supporting their safety or effectiveness. Please take this choice seriously.

There are some children who cannot be completely vaccinated because of health concerns. If you’ve got a child with that sort of situation, follow the advice of the doctors who know your child best. But for the vast majority of children, the best way to be safe is to vaccinate your children, all of your children, on time, and on schedule. That protects your children, your neighbors, your community, and yourself.

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20 Comments on “Delaying vaccines increases seizure risk”

  1. oldmdgirl Says:

    Is this risk adjusted data?

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  2. Autism Mom Praying In The Storm Says:

    Vaccine schedules set up by the drug companies working along with the CDC are all about profits. My son had all vaccines on time, now he has autism and grand mal seizures. I think there is so much we don’t know about vaccines but we all understand greed.

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  3. Dr. Roy Says:

    oldmdgirl, all I know is what’s in the linked story– I can’t find the actual published study (perhaps it hasn’t been published yet.) I do not know how risks were adjusted.

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  4. Dr. Roy Says:

    Autism Mom, I am sorry about your son, and I hope that you and he are able to make progress.

    I do not think it’s likely that his vaccines contributed to his autism. As you know, there is a lot of research about this from many different centers from many different countries, involving hundreds of thousands of physicians and researchers. I don’t think it’s likely that there could be such a widespread conspiracy to hide information implicating vaccines.

    Peace to you and your family. I wish you well.

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  5. oldmdgirl Says:

    Well, Dr. Roy, it’s a really important question. It’s possible that the alternative vaccine schedule didn’t cause the seizures, but that a third unmeasured variable caused both the seizures and the alternative vaccine schedule. Not saying that alternative schedules are good, just saying that confounding is really important.

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  6. Dr. Roy Says:

    oldmdgirl, that’s certainly true. This was an observational study of 324,000 children captured in 8 medical centers that reported into the vaccine safety datalink. I am not certain what other clinical data or family history could have been captured or controlled. We’ll have to await formal publication.

    Nonetheless, studies like these add to the substantial evidence supporting current vaccine practice.

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  7. oldmdgirl Says:

    Sample size does not mitigate the risk of confounding at all. If you’re not currently aware of that, you should be.

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  8. Dr. Roy Says:

    Did I say that it did? All I did was restate how the study was done– that’s all the info I have, from the article I linked to. I even said “that’s certainly true” to your comment.

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  9. oldmdgirl Says:

    Well good. I’m glad you knew. Many people don’t.

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  10. Autism Mom Praying In The Storm Says:

    I received this reply from another blog
    “raisingkidswithlove”
    “When the MMR dose is given between 16 and 23 months (which is delayed) the study shows about 2 children in 4000 doses have a seizure. The MMRV given delayed between 16 and 23 months shows 2 seizures in every 2000 doses. This is attributed to the increase in the immune response and the increased likelihood that a child between 16 and 23 months has more of a risk of febrile seizures with viral illnesses….more prone to them with a temperature increase. Children given the doses on time have about 1/2 the incidences of febrile seizure. Again these are acute febrile seizures that are scary but cause no damage.”
    So, the numbers were 2 versus 1 in 2000. Would you agree with these numbers? Looks like .05% vs .10%. Just wanted to make sure I had my right numbers. Thanks!

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  11. Dr. Roy Says:

    Autism mom, I can’t find the actual, published study– I suspect it hasn’t been published yet. The data was presented by the author at a meeting, then it was reported in the media. To compute a true incidence you’d need to know how many seizures occurred versus how many total doses were given to the whole population, and I’m not certain that he had that data. What’s reported is the ratio of seizures after the routine schedule, versus when the vaccines were given on a delayed fashion. He reported that the “attributable risk” was doubled both for the MMR and chicken pox given as two injections and for times when it was given as one “MMRV” vaccine on a delayed schedule.

    In the news article, the author is reported to have used this numerical example:

    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.

    If he meant that the observed rate of febrile seizures after MMR on a routine schedule was 1 in 4,000, that would fit in with the expected rate that’s been published elsewhere. From the CDC:

    Mild problems
    -Fever (up to 1 person out of 6)
    -Mild rash (about 1 person out of 20)
    -Swelling of glands in the cheeks or neck (about 1 person out of 75)
    -If these problems occur, it is usually within 6-14 days after the shot. They occur less often after the second dose.

    Moderate problems
    -Seizure (jerking or staring) caused by fever (about 1 out of 3,000 doses)
    -Temporary pain and stiffness in the joints, mostly in teenage or adult women (up to 1 out of 4)
    -Temporary low platelet count, which can cause a bleeding disorder (about 1 out of 30,000 doses)

    Severe problems (very rare)
    -Serious allergic reaction (less than 1 out of a million doses)
    -Several other severe problems have been reported after a child gets MMR vaccine, including:
    –Deafness
    –Long-term seizures, coma, or lowered consciousness
    –Permanent brain damage
    These are so rare that it is hard to tell whether they are caused by the vaccine.

    However, the CDC may have over-estimated the seizure risk. This contemporary study, which was designed to calculate the actual risk, found a seizure frequency of 1 in 15,000 to 1 in 18,000 after MMR, depending on whether MMR and chicken pox were combined into one injection.

    Febrile seizures themselves are harmless, as I said in the original article. But they sure are scary, and I think most families would like to avoid them! To help put the 1 in 3,000 figure from the CDC in context, the overall rate of febrile seizures in the population is probably about 1 in 25 children (per this NIH site.) The vast majority of these are triggered by ordinary viral infections, not by vaccines. Ironically, the diseases prevented by MMR can cause encephalitis and brain damage at a far, far higher rate than any important side effect from immunizations.

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  12. Dawn Says:

    Any logical person can go onto the CDC’s website and see firsthand that many of their pages contradict themselves – to include these bogus “studies” they proudly spew out of the mouths.

    The real subject at hand is why nurses, doctors and pharmacists are not legally required to disclose the vaccine package inserts, only the vaccine information statements. This is morally and ethically unconscionable. My personal opinion is that any person who knowingly administers a drug such as a vaccine without informing the patient of all possible side effects as outlined on the vaccine package inserts should have their license revoked and face jail time. No “ifs” , “ands” or buts about it.

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  13. Dr. Roy Says:

    Dawn, physicians are not required to inform patients of all possible side effects as outlined in package inserts– not for any medications or any medical devices. Those documents are not meant as realistic representations of likely or even uncommon side effects; they’re compilations of the side effects reported during initial studies submitted for licensure. Typically, additional studies and experience show what side effects are actually either common enough or serious enough to be outlined during informed consent. The vaccine information statements reflect that knowledge and provide realistic information about adverse events.

    You are critical of the CDC’s website, claiming that many of their pages contradict themselves. Perhaps you’d like to provide some examples.

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  14. Dawn Says:

    Not true. Vaccine information statements do not provide the patient with all of the vaccine side effects. Every vaccine carries its own lengthy list of side effects according to the manufacturers. If vaccines are so “safe”, then why is it that every time you buy a single vaccine does 75 cents go into the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in the event that you are injured? $2.25 for combination vaccines? You only have 3 years to file a claim. How many babies can tell you that they lost their hearing after vaccination? Or that they can no longer see as good? Eye nerve damage and hearing loss are listed as potential side effects to many vaccines. By the time the parent realizes the damage that has been done, they are simply out of luck.

    Regarding the CDC’s contradictions. I’ll just give three examples out of many. The CDC maintains on their website that children will receive 6 vaccines from birth – 6 months of age. Yet, you click on their “recommended schedule” (same website) and you will quickly learn that the child will receive triple that amount.

    Another example? What the CDC is telling the public totally contradicts what the vaccine package inserts maintain. For instance, the CDC insists that it is totally safe for pregnant women to be vaccinated with the flu shot and DTaP shot. Yet, when you actually read the package inserts for all of the US licensed vaccines, the vaccine manufacturers state that no studies have ever been done on pregnant women – only rats and rabbits. However, all pregnant women currently being vaccinated are encouraged to report any side effects – they are essentially in a bogus study and not even aware of it. Now, with only 1% of side effects being reported, we can see why.

    The unvaccinated are spreading disease? Hardly. Did you know that the majority of these outbreaks are occurring among the vaccinated? How is this possible? Well, another example – the CDC maintains that 5 doses are needed for the DTaP shot before 5 years old, and the child suddenly develops Pertussis after only receiving 4 doses – the child is considered “unvaccinated”. It is a joke. Also, if these diseases are so deadly, why on earth have physicians, nurses, and pharmacists not been required to be vaccinated with anything? Vaccines have been around since the 1800s?

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  15. Dr. Roy Says:

    I didn’t say that VISs list ALL possible side effects. They’re not intended to. They list relevant side effects, giving useful information to people rather than a firehose of irrelevant speculation that doesn’t help anyone make intelligent decisions. A list of ALL possible side effects of any medication or injection would need to include all symptoms that any human could ever experience. That wouldn’t be a useful list.

    The anti-vax community likes to see these issues as very black and white, in stark absolutes. Vaccines are either 100% effective, or 100% ineffective; they’re either 100% safe, or 100% unsafe. They like absolute language: insisting on a list of ALL side effects, or a promise that a vaccine is 100% safe. Of course the real world in which we live isn’t like that. Medical interventions are never 100% effective nor 100% safe. We owe it to our children to try to choose the wisest path among available choices, using the best information available at the time.

    Examples means “links.” I should have made that more clear. Saying the CDC site contains so-and-so, without providing links, makes it impossible to refute your assertions. More rhetorical trickery from the anti-vax side.

    The product inserts (as I suspect you know) are locked in stone at product licensure, and do not include references to studies done afterwards (unless the manufacturer applies to change the PI.) Further studies continue to inform opinions, even though they’re not in the insert. Insisting that we only make decisions based on the PIs is like insisting we continue to only use textbooks from the 1950s.

    The hospital at which I work requires several vaccinations for healthcare workers, including influenza and hepatitis B and MMR; there is currently discussion of requiring an adult Tdap as well (which I agree with.)

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  16. Dawn Says:

    The hospital that you work at may required several vaccinations, but I find that it usually doesn’t apply to doctors. Even if it does apply, it is extremely easy for you to write medical exemptions for yourselves and loved ones.

    Thank you for proving my point. You are not legally bound to disclose the side effects with regard to vaccines. Again, it is criminal in my opinion.

    You and your colleagues may not vaccinate yourselves or loved ones, but don’t worry – vaccines will eventually affect your offspring’s DNA as well. Did you know that these contaminating pathogens in vaccines are sexually transmitted and genetic? Forget about the heavy metals and preservatives…….the real concern lies with the retroviruses, adenoviruses, lentiviruses, and staph/strep bacterias that are permissible in vaccines. Did you ever wonder why something like melanoma is “genetic”? Melanoma is actually a murine retrovirus. A mouse virus that is embedded in our DNA. Oddly enoughly, mice are just one of the many animals used in vaccine production. I urge you to investigate the medical journals with the search words of any disease and the word – “retrovirus”. If you want to take your research a step further – 2 books I highly recommened:

    Vaccine Safety Manual by Neil Z. Miller (the CDC’s accurate info)
    Fear of the Invisible by Janine Roberts (how a vaccine is made and what pathogens have been found in them)

    I urge you to read them in that order. It is not too late for you to join the other side of the fight. There are plenty of doctors speaking out against vaccines and their careers are going strong. Good luck to you.

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  17. Dr. Roy Says:

    No, the hospital rules apply equally to everyone involved in patient care. And if you should be medically exempt, you have to get approval from the board, not just write a note for yourself.

    Dawn, you seem like a nice person. But you’ve been egregiously misinformed by people seeking to manipulate you. Your posts are an assortment of falsehoods and irrelevancies. I assure you that I am not part of some vast conspiracy seeking to harm children. I feel personally responsible for the thousands of kids in my practice, and for my own three children, all of whom are fully vaccinated. I seek to harm no one, and I’ve made my entire career out of studying this and trying to make the best decisions based on the best evidence.

    I realize that you don’t trust doctors/the government/the CDC, and perhaps in some ways these institutions have not always acted in a way to earn your trust. We need to do better. In the meantime, I wish you peace in your journey.

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  18. Dawn Says:

    I will leave you with these final thoughts…..My baby and I were injured by vaccines in 2007. We were never informed of the risks associated with our vaccines.

    You are correct. I do not trust the medical industry and rightfully so. You see, I received a rubella vaccine 3 days after his birth. I was already suffering from high blood pressure (preeclampsia) and this vaccine almost killed me. The doctor who prescribed it and the other doctor who administered it never bothered to read the warning label on this vaccine that it may cause an increase in blood pressure. I am lucky to be alive. Though I did suffer from partial hearing loss – a side effect listed on the vaccine. My son? Well he received the IPV, DTaP, and HIB vaccines. He suffered from cellulitis, fever, hypotonia, and high-pitched screaming for 3 days after his 2 & 4 month vaccines. I called on both occasions after hours and was told that it was nothing to worry about – quite common. I later learn that any infant screaming for more than 3 hours is not normal and it is considered a severe reaction according to the manufacturers. We finally stopped vaccinating him after he suffered from convulsions after his 6 mo. vaccines. You can only imagine my horror to learn that my son more than likely was experiencing encephalitis – on all 3 occasions. What is even more shocking is that later that year the FDA issued a statement that they were recalling a nursing mother’s nipple cream called “Mommy’s Bliss” because it contained a dangerous ingredient called “phenoxyethanol” that had the potential to depress a nursing infant’s central nervous system (could damage it or potentially kill the infant). Why was this in his DTaP vaccine? The only thing that the manufacturer could do was apologize and tell me that they are phasing it out and he must have received what was left on the shelves! They are not required to recall vaccines. The FDA also cannot dictate what can/cannot go into a vaccine either. However it was still in another vaccine called IPOL. Today? It is now in 5 common infant vaccines. There is not enough space to explain the emotional, financial and physical trauma that my family has gone through trying to fix our severely damaged son. Only through the grace of God, were we able to reverse much of the damage. He will now lead a normal life – of course, there will always be lingering issues.

    I then began to pour through my entire family’s medical records and uncovered 2 more vaccine injured victims…..my niece who died in 1975 at the age of 3 months from symptoms that mimic muscle wasting disease – a side effect listed to her DPT shot at the time. My family was told that it was some rare “genetic” thing – however, she was born normal and remained normal until that vaccine and then one by one, her muscles gave out and she died. My other child? I have proof that he suffered from eye nerve damage after his Hep B shot at 6 months. All these years I attributed it to genetics – but now see his eyes were fine until that vaccine. Eye nerve damage is listed as a side effect to that vaccine. He has suffered many years with a learning disability involving his eyes. Then, there is my brother. A well-known teaching hospital in Boston actually wrote in his medical records that his autoimmune encephalitis was more than likely attributed to his vaccines he received 4 years earlier. He will be on disability for life. So much for informed consent with all of us.

    My posts are not based on misinformation that I’ve been supplied. I’ve spent well over 1,000 hours researching vaccines. I’ve kept my research limited to the CDC’s website (MMWRs and other revelant info), the FDA’s, vaccine package inserts, PubMed, BMJ, NEJM, etc. Can you honestly say that you’ve put the same effort into your own research or have you simply trusted the word and distorted evidence that you have been given from the pro-vaccine community? Have you actually looked at the studies in the peer-reviewed medical journals in their entirety or have you simply read the summaries? Have you honestly looked at the mortality rate for each specific disease before/after each vaccine came on the market? I have.

    God does warn us in the Bible not to drink the blood of sacrificed animals because if we do disease will follow. He also warns us that in the end times the wicked will consume their sons and daughters. Well, vaccines cannot be made without using the blood of animals or aborted babies – it is needed to harvest the vaccines. We are not swallowing it, but injecting it. Even if you are not a Christian, you must know that with blood transfusions there is a risk of contracting Hep A, B, C or even AIDS. Well, what is the real risk associated with vaccines?

    I do hope that I’ve encouraged you to investigate the issue so that you may draw your own logical conclusions based on the “real facts” – like I have.

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  19. Dr. Roy Says:

    I have no way to confirm or refute Dawn’s family story. I have left all of her comments intact for anyone to read and consider.

    RE: Blood and vaccines, Dawn again discards the truth. Some vaccines are made in chicken eggs, or some in cultures of human cells; others contain proteins constructed using recombinent techniques in the laboratory. They don’t use blood, and no vaccine transmits blood-borne pathogens as listed by Dawn.

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  20. emsnews Says:

    Dear Dr. Roy,

    The endless cycle of made up stories by anti-vaccinationists are quickly tiresome if you debate for more than a year.

    ‘Dawn’ is probably a fake. This is quite common. Anti-vaccinationists are close kin or obvious members of a religious dogma and thus, utterly impervious to any disputes that are rational.

    I personally know of families like this who allow members to die rather than do something sane and if they panic and do use a real doctor, they then blame all the outcome results on the real doctor while praising the con artist doctors who fail to save lives.

    This bizarre world they inhabit is sad due to the funerals they must attend rather frequently. But death doesn’t make even the slightest scratch on their belief systems.

    So don’t feel sorry for ‘Dawn’. She probably, if real, would be quite vicious to you if you tried to argue with her in person.

    Like


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