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Study Reports Vaccines are Safe for Children

Update Date: Jul 02, 2014 10:15 AM EDT

Even though vaccines are recommended for children, some parents get worried about the risk of side effects. Due to this fear, some parents skip vaccines, which could then jeopardize the health of their children. In a new study, researchers examined the link between vaccines and risks of health complications. The team found that vaccines are safe for children and do not cause diseases such as autism or leukemia.

"Our findings support that vaccines are very safe for children, and add to a substantial body of evidence that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the very low risks," said senior author Dr. Courtney Gidengil, an associate physician scientist at the nonprofit RAND Corporation and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. "Hopefully, this will engage hesitant parents in discussions with their health care providers."

For this study, the Rand Corporation was commissioned by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to review available data on the safety of vaccines that are recommended for children, adolescents, pregnant women and adults. The team conducted a systemic review using data provided by 67 previous studies. They also examined a previous review compiled by the Institute of Medicine in 2011 that involved over 1,000 studies.

The researchers concluded that there was no relationship between getting inoculated with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and risk of autism. There was also no evidence that the MMR, DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), tetanus, influenza and hepatitis B vaccines cause leukemia. Despite finding no increased risk of autism or leukemia, the researchers did find very rare side effects that certain vaccines had on children's health. For example, the researchers reported that the rotavirus vaccine can lead to severe gastrointestinal infections for newborns and younger children.

"We found that the serious adverse effects linked to vaccines are extremely rare," said lead author Margaret Maglione, a policy analyst at RAND Corporation reported by Philly. "The rate [for rotavirus] is about one in 100,000 to five in 100,000, so it is extremely rare."

Gidengil added according to USA Today, "This report should give parents some reassurance."

The study was published in the journal, Pediatrics.

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