Immunization Science

Childhood Vaccinations and Risk of Asthma

The article

Childhood vaccinations and risk of asthma. DeStefano F, Gu D, Kramarz P, Truman BI, Iademarco MF, Mullooly JP, Jackson LA, Davis RL, Black SB, Shinefield HR, Marcy SM, Ward JI, Chen RT; Vaccine Safety Datalink Research Group. Pediatric Infectious Diseases Journal 2002;21(6):498-504

The question

Do childhood vaccinations increase children’s risk of developing asthma?

The study

In this study, researchers analyzed data from four large health maintenance organizations (HMOs) in Washington, Oregon and California to look for any associations between vaccines and asthma in childhood.

Researchers followed-up 167,240 children from birth until 18 months of age to 6 years of age, between 1991 and 1997. They compared the children’s immunization records for all routinely recommended childhood vaccines with specific criteria for the diagnosis of asthma.

The findings

The study found that 18,407 (11.0%) out of the 167,240 children developed asthma. Vaccination coverage was high in the population studied.

There was no association between diphtheria, tetanus and whole-cell pertussis vaccine (DTP), oral polio vaccine (OPV) or measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) and the risk of asthma.

There was, however, a weak association for Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and hepatitis B vaccines. The results for Hib and hepatitis B vaccines seemed to be at least partially accounted for by how often the children received health care.

The relevance/bottom line

No association was found between childhood asthma and diphtheria, tetanus, whole-cell pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella and oral polio vaccines.

NNii’s comment

This paper adds to the body of evidence that vaccines are not associated with an increased risk of asthma. A possible weak association for Hib and hepatitis B vaccines appeared to be accounted for by how families use healthcare.