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Reuters Health Information (2007-12-03): Hepatitis B vaccination not tied to MS in children


Hepatitis B vaccination not tied to MS in children

Last Updated: 2007-12-03 16:00:38 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Immunization with the recombinant hepatitis B vaccine (HBV) does not increase the risk of childhood-onset MS (MS), according to a report in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine for December.

Most prior studies have not shown a link between the use of HBV and MS in children. However, one study, which featured a slightly longer follow-up period than the others, did suggest a significant association. This led to public concerns about the safety of HBV and a drop in vaccination rates in many countries.

Furthermore, many of the earlier studies had methodologic limitations, such as limited statistical power and non-validation of vaccination, which may have prevented them from reaching definitive conclusions, lead author Dr. Yann Mikaeloff, from Hopital Bicetre, Le Kremlin Bicetre, and colleagues note.

The present case-control study, which was conducted in France between January 1994 and December 2003, involved 143 patients who developed MS before the age of 16 years and 1,122 matched controls without MS.

The HBV vaccination rates in the 3 years before the index date (first episode of MS) were nearly the same in the case and control groups, roughly 32%.

There was no evidence that vaccination within 6 months of the index date increased the risk of disease, and neither the number of HBV injections nor the brand of vaccine used seemed to have any effect.

In a related editorial, Dr. Frederick P. Rivara and Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis, at the University of Washington and editors at the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, comment: "We have published (this study) both because of the rigor of the research and because of the need to reassure a public that is increasingly wary of vaccination."

"Going forward, we hope that the process of scientific discovery proceeds in a rigorous and thoughtful way that will increase the public's health and not harm it."

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2007;161:1176-1182,1214-1215.

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