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Vaccines' mild atopic risks

Several vaccines in the childhood schedule do slightly increase the risk of developing atopic conditions, a new study reveals.

But the Australian research-ers insisted the risks were too modest to discourage parents from seeking vaccination.

Their study, published online by Thorax, studied the school medical records of 8,443 Tasmanians born in 1961. They examined children's history of asthma and other atopic diseases at ages seven, 13 and 30.

The effect on eczema was particularly pronounced, with vaccination against diphtheria or tetanus increasing by 53 per cent the risk of developing it by age seven, and slightly smaller increases with the pertussis and polio vaccines.

There were less marked effects on risk of food allergies, while the diphtheria vaccine raised asthma risk by 33 per cent.

Oddly, there seemed to be a protective effect against late-onset atopic disease, with children immunised against pertussis at 43 per cent reduced risk of developing it between seven and 30.

Dr Shyamali Dharmage, one of the researchers on the study and an epidemiologist at the University of Melbourne, said the modest risks were re-

assuring.

The study concluded: 'The few effects are small and

age-dependent. The fear of

their child developing atopic disease should not discourage parents from vaccinating their children.'

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