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Institute of Medicine: Schedule Of Childhood Vaccines Declared Safe

Update Date: Jan 16, 2013 10:45 PM EST
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Skeptical parents and organizations have voiced concerns that the federally recommended immunization schedule for young children in recent years are too much for babies, and expressed concern over the potential side effects, but not a new report says that it is safe after conducting a yearlong review of all available scientific data.

The majority of Americans follow the prescribed immunizations, with about 90 percent of children receiving most of the vaccines by the time they enter kindergarten. However, ten percent of parents follow the schedule at a slower pace or ignore it altogether.

Children are recommended to receive 24 immunizations by the age of 2. The Institute of Medicine, which advises the government on health, looked into the issue due to concerns from some parents that children receive too many vaccines, too soon and report that it is indeed safe for young ones.

Although the majority of doctors stand firmly behind vaccination, the issue is hotly debated among parents, particularly those too young to remember scourges like measles, polio and whooping cough. To address parents' concerns, the Institute of Medicine has conducted more than 60 studies of vaccine safety since the 1970s.

"We reviewed the available data and concur with studies that have repeatedly shown the health benefits associated with the recommended schedule, including fewer illnesses, deaths and hospital stays," said committee member Pejman Rohani, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, a professor of complex systems and a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

"Every new vaccine is tested for safety and evaluated in the context of the entire schedule before it is added," Rohani said. "And the systems designed to detect possible harmful effects of immunization have worked well at discovering occasional problems with individual vaccines."

According to family physician Alfred Berg of the University of Washington School of Medicine, who was a member of the IOM committee, the research team looked at a large number of medical conditions, including "things like autoimmune diseases, which even captures diabetes, asthma, hypersensitivity, allergies, seizures, epilepsy, child developmental disorders including autism, and other learning disorders, communications disorders, intellectual disabilities, and even rare things like tics or Tourette's syndrome." None could be linked to the vaccination schedule.

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