Whooping cough vaccine not linked to seizures

Researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week that the whooping cough vaccine is not linked to toddler seizures.

CDC officials report in the journal Pediatrics that their findings bolstered evidence that the vaccine is not associated with acute seizure events and is safe for routine immunizations in early childhood, according to a Reuters report.

An earlier version of the vaccine, which was also used to vaccinate against tetanus and diphtheria, raised concerns after it was found to triple the risk of fever-related seizures in infants. Officials said that the seizures were harmless, Reuters reports, but horrible for parents to have to witness.

The current study looked at the vaccine DTaP, which has been recommended in the U.S. since 1997.

According to the report, researchers looked at more than 430,000 infants given the DTaP vaccine between 1997 and 2006. The toddler’s progress was followed up until the age of two.

Approximately 5,200 of the babies had seizures. Only 112 seizures, however, occurred within four days of the shot. Researchers concluded the seizure rate during these four days was 1,208 per 100,000 infants compared to a baseline rate of 1,083. Researchers said that, from a statistical point of view, that difference could have easily been due to chance.

The CDC announcement may come as a relief to parents of toddlers in California, where an epidemic of whopping cough has resulted 1,496 confirmed cases of the highly-contagious disease. Five infants younger than three months old have died from whooping cough in California this year.

California public health officials this week have expanded vaccination recommendations to include children ages seven and older, women of childbearing age and adults ages 65 and older.