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Study: Almost Half of US Children Not Receiving Vaccines, Leads to Rise in Diseases

Update Date: Jan 22, 2013 02:24 AM EST

Almost 50 percent of babies and toddlers in the United States aren't getting recommended vaccines on time which is leading to a rise in diseases like whooping cough and measles, according to a new study.

The study, which was done between 2004-2008 and covered 320,000 children up to age 2 in seven state, showed a steady increase in the percentage of families delaying or refusing federally-recommended schedules for vaccination.

According to the study, 48.7 percent of children under 24 months were under-vaccinated by at least one day between 2004 and 2008, the Denver Post reported citing the study. The numbers grew from 41.8 percent in 2004 to 54.4 percent in 2008.

"What we're worried about is if (undervaccination) becomes more and more common, is it possible this places children at an increased risk of vaccine-preventable diseases?" said study leader Jason Glanz, with Kaiser Permanente Colorado in Denver.

"It's possible that some of these diseases that we worked so hard to eliminate (could) come back."

The delay was attributed to lack of time for vaccination appointment and sickness of the child on the date of vaccination, Glanz noted.

Glanz warned that if the number of vaccination delay or refusal increases, there will be outbreaks. Previous Kaiser studies showed that children who refused whooping cough vaccination are 23 times likely to catch the illness than those who were immunized.

The Kaiser review of medical charts also showed those with vaccine delays had more inpatient hospital days than those vaccinated on schedule.

The authors of an accompanying editorial noted that the "history is filled with examples in which the field of medicine was reluctant to entertain alternative scientific hypotheses. Sometimes it was right to remain reluctant (e.g., autistic enterocolitis), and sometimes it was not (e.g., miasmas as the cause of cholera)."

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