More Details on Vaccine-Induced Asthma

  • “Asthma ranks among the most common chronic conditions in the United States, affecting an estimated 14.9 million persons in 1995 and causing over 1.5 million emergency department visits, about 500,000 hospitalizations, and over 5,500 deaths.”
  • The CDC’s 2006 National Health Interview Survey estimated a lifetime asthma prevalence of 13.5% among children <= 18 years. (HERE)
  • Several studies have shown a connection between vaccination and a higher risk of developing asthma, and the childhood asthma rate more than doubled during the same time period that several new vaccines were added to the childhood schedule (from 1985-1995).
  • In fact, Hib vaccination started in 1985 and universal Hepatitis B vaccination of all newborns started around 1990, and this study “From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” found “In our main analysis we found that Hib and hepatitis B vaccines were associated with 18 and 20% increases in asthma risk, respectively.”
  • Hepatitis B is spread by unsafe sex and intravenous drug use, and therefore most infants are not a high risk of catching this disease. So based on the CDC’s study above, the benefits do not outweigh the risks of the Hepatitis B vaccine for newborns, and this vaccine should be offered to older groups instead. The exception is infants whose mothers are Hepatitis B positive at the time of delivery as these infants are at risk of catching this serious illness.
  • The Hib vaccine, on the other hand, protects against the potentially serious disease haemophilus influenzae which babies are at risk of catching.
  • However, the risk of vaccine-induced asthma appears to be significantly reduced by just delaying immunizations until the child is over 4 months old. See Earlier Vaccination Causes Asthma.
  • Conclusion: The risk of vaccine-induced asthma could be decreased dramatically by no longer administering a routine hepatitis B vaccine for all newborns, only giving the more necessary vaccines, such as Hib and DTaP, in the first year, and by also delaying the first vaccine until after 4 months old.

 

Further details are discussed below:

Several studies have shown a connection between vaccination and a higher risk of developing asthma.  Several vaccines were added to the childhood immunization schedule between 1980 and 1996, and “During 1980–1996, asthma prevalence increased” (HERE)

In fact, “National survey data indicate that the number of children with asthma in the United States has more than doubled in the past 15 years. In 1980, 2.3 million American children had asthma. In 1995, the most recent year for which data are available, the number of affected children had risen to 5.5 million. Based on these trends, it is estimated that in 1998 more than 6 million children in the United States have asthma. Prevalence rates of asthma are highest in boys and are increasing in both boys and girls, and in all race and ethnic groups. The prevalence of asthma in children under age 18 is 7.3%. The most rapid increase has occurred in children under 5 years old, with rates increasing over 160% over the past 15 years. [from 1980 to 1995] “. (HERE)  Several vaccines were added to the childhood schedule in 1985 through 1995, including Hib and Hepatitis B vaccines. A CDC study found that the Hib and Hepatitis B vaccines increased the risk of developing asthma by 18 and 20 percent respectively.  Hib vaccination of children under 5 began in 1985 and universal Hepatitis B vaccination of all newborns began in 1991.

If vaccines are causing asthma, that would certainly alter their risk/benefit assessment. According to this page published by DHHS and NIH in 1999:

“Asthma ranks among the most common chronic conditions in the United States, affecting an estimated 14.9 million persons in 1995 and causing over 1.5 million emergency department visits, about 500,000 hospitalizations, and over 5,500 deaths. The estimated direct and indirect monetary costs for this disease totaled $11.3 billion in 1998. Asthma disproportionately affects children and blacks. Within the general population, asthma affects females more than males; however, among children, it affects males more. The burden of asthma has been increasing over the past 20 years, especially among children.” (HERE)

Moreover, “There is evidence that severe asthma can cause long-lasting damage and possibly permanent scarring in some patients. The risk for such injury is highest, however, when asthma strikes children in the first 3 – 5 years.  There does not appear to be any significant risk for long-term lung damage for children who develop mild-to-moderate persistent asthma between ages 5 – 12.” (HERE)

In addition to the increases in asthma rates correlating to increases in the vaccine schedule, there are also several studies discussed below that point to certain vaccines and earlier vaccination as a causal factor:

1. This Study found the Highest Correlation between vaccination and Asthma:

“Epidemiology 1997 Nov;8(6):678-80
Is infant immunization a risk factor for childhood asthma or allergy?
Kemp T, Pearce N, Fitzharris P, Crane J, Fergusson D, St George I, Wickens K, Beasley R.
Department of Medicine, Wellington School of Medicine, New Zealand.

The Christchurch Health and Development Study comprises 1,265 children born in 1977. The 23 children who received no diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) and polio immunizations had no recorded asthma episodes or consultations for asthma or other allergic illness before age 10 years; in the immunized children, 23.1% had asthma episodes, 22.5% asthma consultations, and 30.0% consultations for other allergic illness. Similar differences were observed at ages 5 and 16 years. These findings do not appear to be due to differential use of health services (although this possibility cannot be excluded) or con-founding by ethnicity, socioeconomic status, parental atopy, or parental smoking.
PMID: 9345669 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

2. The CDC’s Asthma-Vax Study found that the Hib and Hepatitis B vaccines increase the risk of developing asthma by 18 and 20 percent respectively:

  • Cohort Study involving 167,240 children.
  • “In our main analysis we found that Hib and hepatitis B vaccines were associated with 18 and 20% increases in asthma risk, respectively.” Click here to see the CDC’s study
  • As mentioned previously, according to the CDC, “During 1980–1996, asthma prevalence increased” (HERE) and during that same time period, Hib vaccination began in 1985 and universal Hepatitis B vaccination of infants began in 1991.

The CDC’s study found that the Hepatitis B vaccine was associated with a 20% increased risk of asthma. Clearly, for most infants, the risk of Hepatitis B does not outweigh the risks of the Hepatitis B vaccine. The exception is children whose mothers are Hepatitis B positive at the time of delivery as these children are at risk of catching this serious illness.

The CDC’s study also found that the Hib vaccine was associated with an 18% increased risk for developing asthma. Unfortunately, haemophilus influenzae (the disease that Hib vaccination is intended to prevent) is very contagious and potentially serious for infants and children. However, the risk of Hib vaccine-induced asthma may be significantly reduced by delaying the first vaccine until after 4 months of age. (details are discussed in the next study.)

3. Delay in diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus vaccination is associated with a reduced risk of childhood asthma McDonald ET AL (also referred to as the Manitoba study)

This was a “retrospective longitudinal study of a cohort of children who were born in Manitoba in 1995 and remained in Manitoba until at least age 7 years (13,980 children). The complete immunization and health care records of cohort children from birth until age 7 were available for analysis. Immunization data were obtained from the Manitoba Immunization Monitoring System (MIMS). “

  • “Children who were delayed by as long as 1 month in their first dose of DPT were significantly less likely to develop asthma compared with children who received their first dose of DPT by 62 days after birth (OR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.75-0.95).”
    • The authors of this study also mention that, in Japan, the first dose of DTaP is not given until at least 3 months (one month later than the US schedule), and Japan’s asthma prevalence rates are “well below those seen in North America”.
  • “The likelihood of asthma at age 7 years was halved in children who received their first dose of DPT at more than 4 months after birth (OR, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.25-0.97).”
  • “Delayed administration of the first dose of DPT of more than 2 months from the recommended 2-month period was associated with a reduced risk of childhood asthma by 50%.”
  • “among children with delays in all 3 doses, the likelihood of asthma was further reduced to 60%.”

According to the results of this study, the asthma rate for children vaccinated on or before 2 months was 13.8%. The rate for children vaccinated with their first dose more than 4 months after birth was 5.9%. That equals a relative risk of developing asthma if given the DTP on or before 2 months instead of later of 2.3.

While no studies have officially been conducted on the effect of delaying Hib vaccination, the Manitoba study was conducted on children who were born in 1995, and Hib vaccination in Canada began in 1988. (HERE)  Since DTP (now DTaP) and Hib are usually given at the same time (2,4, and 6 months), it is reasonable to assume that if a child’s DTP shot was delayed, his or her Hib vaccine was probably also delayed. So it may also be important to delay Hib vaccination until after 4 months.

The Manitoba study also includes the following information about Japan’s immunization schedule: “The childhood immunization schedule in Japan recommends that children be immunized with 3 doses of DaPT between 6 to 9 months after birth; first doses can be given no earlier than 3 months. It is interesting to note that between 1975 and 1988, Japan did not recommend immunizing children under 2 years of age. In 1982, Japan’s asthma prevalence rate in children was approximately 3.2%, and by 2002 it was 6.5%. Although these statistics represent a doubling of asthma over a period of 20 years, these prevalence rates are well below those seen in North America. However, the administration of pertussis vaccine in Japan to children after 2 years of age resulted in higher rates of pertussis than in children given the vaccine at an earlier time.”

This study also provides a possible explanation of why the delay could help prevent vaccine-induced asthma: “At birth, the newborn immune system has a limited ability to produce TH1 cytokines, but levels increase over the period of the next 6 months.40,41 Similar to the fever-asthma association reported byWilliams et al,22 a high fever response elicited by the cellular pertussis vaccine in later infancy potentially has a greater effect in stimulating the innate immune response than a fever response in early infancy. An alternate interpretation of our findings is that vaccine stimulation of IgE levels at a later time during infancy, when the TH1 immune system gains more prominence, may have little effect in promoting TH2 skewing.” This would be important to know since, “Th2 cytokines may play an important role in the pathophysiology of allergic diseases, including asthma.” (HERE)  So a 6 month old’s immune system might be better equipped for developing a proper immune response to vaccination instead of resulting in a TH1/TH2 imbalance skewed to a TH2 profile typically observed in people with asthma and allergies. Unfortunately, children are receiving too many vaccines and they are receiving them too early for their developing immune systems to handle properly. Children are currently receiving 20 shots by 6 months of age, and in the early 1980′s, before the rate of asthma had “more than doubled”, children received 5 shots by 6 months of age.
Conclusion: The risk of vaccine-induced asthma could be decreased dramatically by no longer administering a routine hepatitis B vaccine for all newborns, only giving the more necessary vaccines, such as Hib and DTaP, in the first year, and by also delaying the first vaccine until after 4 months old; when their immune systems are more mature.

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