Study finds no link between flu vaccine and Guillain-Barre syndrome

A study published in the British Medical Journal has determined that vaccines used in the 2009 "swine flu" pandemic led to no perceptible rise in the neurological disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome.

In 1976, doctors in the United States ceased using an immunization against "swine flu" after finding a seven-fold increase from Guillain-Barre. Subsequent seasonal virus vaccinations found either no increases or a modest increase in risk, leading to an unresolved debate about whether the flu vaccine is dangerous or not, AFP reports.

The study was funded by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control and was done among 50 million people in five European countries in which doctors used both the flu vaccine and an adjuvant booster. They found no evidence of risk from Guillain-Barre syndrome from the vaccination, though they could not rule out a theoretical but still small increased risk, amounting to less than three excess cases of the syndrome for every million individuals protected by the vaccination.

Guillain-Barre is a disease in which the body's immune defenses attack nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and occasionally paralysis. It is fatal in three to 10 percent of cases.

"This study provides reassurance that adjuvanted pandemic influenza A(H1N1) 2009 vaccines did not increase the risk of Guillain-Barre syndrome substantially, if at all," the report said, according to AFP.