Many parents are concerned that multiple vaccines during early childhood could be damaging their child’s immune system. A recent American study evaluated whether the childhood vaccine schedule impacted the risk of developing non-targeted infectious diseases.
In the past 30 years, the number of routine childhood vaccines in America has increased from three vaccines targeting seven diseases to ten vaccines targeting 14 diseases. These numbers have sparked public debate on the safety of childhood vaccines, with many parents now choosing to opt out of vaccinations or delaying the vaccine schedule in fear that they may be doing more harm than good.
Two separate 2015 and 2016 studies on the anti-vaccination movement found that 10-15% of parents choose to delay vaccinations for their children. Many claiming that early immunization may overload their children’s immune systems and increase their risk of future infections. While no conclusive scientific evidence has yet been published to support these claims, a 2013 Institute of Medicine committee recommended that the American childhood vaccination schedule should be investigated. Results from the Institute for Health Research has now been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers examined medical records for 495,193 children born in the western United States between 2009 and 2013, comparing disease risks in those who received the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended vaccines and those who didn’t. If vaccines were indeed damaging to a child’s immune system, the researchers expected vaccinated children to experience higher rates of infections for diseases not covered by the vaccines. However, researchers found no significant differences between the two groups.
The results are similar to a 2005 study investigating the Danish childhood vaccination schedule which includes five vaccines targeting seven diseases. No adverse health effects from childhood vaccinations were identified in that study either. With no evidence suggesting that the CDC childhood vaccination schedule poses any harm to a developing child’s immune system, the study’s authors suggest for parents to have children vaccinated as recommended.
Written by Calvin J. Chan, B.Sc.
Reference: Glanz, J.M. et al. (2018). Association between estimated cumulative vaccine antigen exposure through the first 23 months of life and non-vaccine-targeted infections from 24 through 47 months of age. Journal of the American Medical Association. 319(9): 906-913.