Study links childhood vaccines to 'huge' increase in allergies
Patients immunised with vaccines included in the UK childhood immunisation schedule are 14 times more likely to be diagnosed with asthma than unvaccinated children, a study of 29,000 patients suggests.
The researchers said although the study found a link between the vaccines and asthma, it was 'unlikely' to be causal.
The cohort study compared doctor-diagnosed asthma and eczema rates in unvaccinated children with those immunised against diphtheria, polio, pertussis, tetanus and MMR.
Children who had been vaccinated some 96 per cent were 14 times more likely to be diagnosed with asthma and 9.4 times more likely to be diagnosed with eczema than unvaccinated children, the study showed.
Study co-author Dr Rich-ard Hubbard, senior lecturer in respiratory medicine at the University of Nottingham, played down the findings, arguing there were 'significant interactions' between vaccination and consulting behaviour.
He said: 'The problem is people who don't go to the doctor's don't get diagnoses of asthma and don't get vaccinated. In the unvaccinated group you will always see a lower risk of asthma.'
The study, presented last week at the British Thoracic Society winter meeting in London, found no association between the vaccine dose response and allergies, making a link between current vaccination policy and allergies 'very unlikely', said Dr Hubbard.
Dr David Bellamy, a GP in Bournemouth, Dorset, and a committee member of the General Practice Airways Group, said the study findings were 'pretty startling'.
He said: 'A 14-fold rise is a pretty huge increase. If these findings are true the implications are somewhat worrying.'
He added other factors such as maternal history needed to be considered before drawing any firm conclusions.
Dr Chris Cates, editor of the Cochrane Airways Group and a GP in Bushey, Hert-fordshire, said that he was
unaware of any previous link between vaccinations and asthma.
He added: 'What I would not do is say this proves that vaccination causes asthma. Trying to untangle whether vaccinations have a role in this is incredibly difficult.
'If people consult more they are more likely to get