Vaccines do not weaken child's immunity
[Posted: Mon 07/03/2011]
Vaccinated children are not at an increased risk of developing infections or allergic diseases, such as eczema and bronchitis, the results of a new study indicate.
According to German researchers, vaccinations are among the most important and effective preventive measures in modern medicine. The benefits, efficacy and safety of such vaccinations are widely scientifically proven and they are well-tolerated.
"In spite of all this, some parents and doctors have reservations against vaccinations. The fear is that vaccinations overburden, stress or weaken a child's immune system and may therefore cause harm.
"As a result they think that vaccinated children are more prone to falling ill than non-vaccinated children. In addition, vaccinations are deemed to be responsible for the occurrence or increased incidence of other diseases, including chronic diseases," they noted.
They decided to investigate this issue further. They analysed data available for 13,453 children aged between one and 17, comparing the occurrence of infections and allergies in vaccinated and unvaccinated participants. These included bronchitis, eczema, colds and gastrointestinal infections.
The study found that the only difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated children was in relation to the frequency of vaccine preventable diseases, such as measles, mumps and pertussis. Not surprisingly, the risk of contracting these diseases was substantially lower in vaccinated children.
Apart from that, there was no statistically significant difference between rates of infections and allergic conditions in vaccinated and non-vaccinated children. For example, among children aged between one and five, unvaccinated children had an average of 3.3 infectious diseases in the past year, compared to 4.2 for unvaccinated children.
Among those aged 11 to17, unvaccinated children had an average of 1.9 infectious diseases in the past year, compared to 2.2 for unvaccinated children.
The researchers noted that in older children, atopy (allergic disease, such as eczema) was more common, but its prevalence was not found to depend on vaccination status.
Among six to 10-year-olds, the prevalence figures were 30.1% for unvaccinated children versus 24.4% for vaccinated children. And the corresponding figures for those aged 11 to 17 were 20.3% versus 29.9%.
"The prevalence of allergic diseases and non-specific infections in children and adolescents was not found to depend on vaccination status," the researchers concluded.
Details of these findings are published in the German medical journal, Deutsches Ärzteblatt International.
For more on childhood vaccinations, see our Child Vaccination Tracker here