Think MMR vaccine, and you probably start thinking autism. But while researchers arm-wrestle over a possible causal link, the vaccine has been proven irrefutably to cause at least one serious adverse reaction that the media has not picked up on.
The vaccine, given to millions of children every year, will triple the risk of a febrile seizure, according to a major Danish survey. The risk is at its greatest within two weeks of the child being vaccinated. After that, the risk drops to a similar rate found in a child who has never been vaccinated.
However, children who suffered their first seizure because of the vaccination had a 19 per cent chance of suffering further seizures afterwards, although researchers say there is no likelihood of the child developing epilepsy later.
Despite these reassurances, their claim doesn't fit with the facts. Children who have recurrent seizures have a 4 per cent chance of developing epilepsy. The research team notes that the rate of seizure after the vaccine is far higher among children whose family has a history of epilepsy, which also suggests their dismissal of a link may need re-examining.
Febrile seizure is a relatively common occurrence among small children, and in most cases it is a harmless incident. Nonetheless it is extremely disturbing for everyone concerned. The child often loses consciousness, and starts to shake. Sometimes the child becomes rigid. A seizure can last anything from a few seconds up to 15 minutes.
The Danish study involved 537,171 children who were born in Denmark between 1991 and 1998. Of those, 439,251 had the MMR vaccine, and 17,986 children had at least one febrile seizure.
(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2004; 292: 351-7).
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