Safety of Vaccines and Medications Tops List of Priorities for Parents

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, In The News, Research Reveals: Babies, Health & Safety: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers

vaccination picture

Parents want more research done on the safety of children's vaccines. Credit: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year on medical research related to children's health issues, yet parents have little or no say in how that money is spent -- even though we're the ones in the trenches, making decisions and taking actions that affect our children's lives every day.

When asked, nearly nine out of 10 parents rate research on the safety of vaccines, and effectiveness and safety of medicines, as the most important topics regarding children's health, according to the recent C.S. Mott Children's Hospital Poll on Children's Health.

This may come as no surprise in light of a marked increase in parental concerns over the safety of vaccines in the last decade, largely due to alleged, but later disproved, links between vaccines and autism and concerns about mercury and other preservatives used in the vaccines.

Government agencies and health care providers assure us vaccines are safe, but, for many, those assurances just aren't enough. The Poll on Children's Health results demonstrate that parents are looking to researchers to provide the layer of confidence they need when it comes to vaccine safety.

"Assurances from health care providers and government officials that vaccines are safe have been insufficient," Dr. Matthew Davis, director of the poll and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School, says in a press release. "Rather, it's clear from this poll that parents want more research about the safety of vaccines for their young children and adolescents."

The safety and effectiveness of medications may be an issue that has risen to the top this year as a result of recent recalls of high-profile children's medications -- such as Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl -- and recent reports that suggest some common over-the-counter medicines may be ineffective for kids.

But no matter the cause, parents clearly recognize the importance of continuing research about medications, and recognize the role research can play in helping to inform them about the potential benefits and risks of treatments for their children, Davis says.

Issues that concern parents, according to the poll:

  • Safety of vaccines (89 percent)
  • Effectiveness and safety of medicines (88 percent)
  • Things in the environment that can lead to health problems (72 percent)
  • Foods that might protect against cancer (67 percent)
  • New treatment for a rare childhood disease (66 percent)
  • Foods that might cause cancer (64 percent)
  • New treatment for a common childhood disease (64 percent)
  • Leading causes of injuries in children (46 percent)

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