Whooping Cough Vaccine Safe, Researchers Insist

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Flyers in several languages urging whooping cough vaccinations are seen at a recent news conference by the CDC, to publicize a recent, sharp increase in the number of whooping cough cases reported in California. Credit: Reed Saxon, AP

Some parents are a bit concerned about the vaccine against whooping cough. Watching a child have a seizure will do that to you.

But that happened with an older version of the vaccine, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tell the Reuters news service.

And whooping cough -- known to be deadly (especially in past generations) -- poses a much larger threat to children than any vaccine, they add.

The current vaccine, they insist, is safe.

"Our findings provide reassuring evidence that the vaccine is not associated with acute seizure events and is safe for routine immunization in early childhood," researchers write in the journal Pediatrics.

The earlier version of the vaccine also protected children against diphtheria and tetanus. However, Reuters reports, it tripled the risk of fever-related seizures in infants, most of which are harmless, according to the news service.

Still, they scare parents and could cause babies to choke on food.

The study, released July 19, reportedly is the largest so far to look at seizure risk with the current vaccine, known as DTaP. The vaccine has been recommended in the United States since 1997.

Researchers examined data from more than 430,000 infants vaccinated between 1997 and 2006, and also followed the children until the age of 2. Most were given four vaccinations, starting at 2 months of age. Some 5,200 of the babies had seizures at some point, but only 112 occurred within four days of the shot.

Researchers also took into account other factors linked to seizures, such as age and the vaccine for the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. Seen in this light, Reuters reports, infants actually had fewer seizures in the days following their shots than at other times.

"It seems that public concerns regarding vaccine safety in general has grown significantly in recent years," James M. Baggs of the Centers for Disease Control, who led the new research, tells Reuters. "Our message to parents is that this study finds very reassuring results that DTaP vaccination is not related to seizure events after vaccination."

Related: Whooping Cough Not a Disease of the Past; It's Here and Deadly

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.