Rotavirus Vaccine Linked to Lower Seizure Risk

Rotavirus vaccination associated with reduced risk of seizures in children

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Vaccines are made to protect children and adults alike from a host of diseases. Some of these vaccines may protect against more than the disease they were intended to prevent.

A recent study found that being vaccinated against rotavirus was linked to a lower risk of seizures in children.

Rotavirus is a gastrointestinal illness that can cause severe diarrhea. It can be fatal if not treated, in part because of risks of dehydration.

The rotavirus vaccine is one of the routine childhood vaccines that is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for infants.

Meanwhile, seizures are known to be linked with rotavirus infections.

This study found that children who were vaccinated against rotavirus were less likely to experience seizures compared to children who didn't get the vaccine.

"Discuss vaccinations with your child's pediatrician."

This study, led by Daniel C. Payne, PhD, of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looked at whether there was any link between risk of seizures and being vaccinated against rotavirus in children.

The researchers used data from a system called the Vaccine Safety Datalink.

The Vaccine Safety Datalink is a massive database that includes all the medical records and health histories of children who are vaccinated at selected managed care organizations across the US.

The researchers analyzed the medical information for all 250,601 children in the database who were born between Feburary 28, 2006 (when the rotavirus vaccine was first licensed in the US) and November 2009.

Among this group, 74 percent of the children (186,502) had been vaccinated against rotavirus, and 27 percent of the children (64,099) had not received the rotavirus vaccine.

The researchers then compared the rates of seizures among these children, taking into account differences in their age, sex, the month they were first seen at the doctor and their geographical location.

Specifically, the researchers looked for any seizures that occurred among the children anywhere from four weeks to 55 weeks after the children were vaccinated.

For those not vaccinated, the same time frame was used from the last doctor visit for those children.

The researchers found that children who had received the rotavirus vaccine were slightly less likely to experience a seizure than those who were unvaccinated.

Children fully vaccinated against rotavirus were 18 percent less likely to have a first-ever seizure than those who did not receive the rotavirus vaccine at all.

Vaccinated children were 21 percent less likely to experience any seizures at all compared to children who did not get the rotavirus vaccine.

"A full course of rotavirus vaccination was statistically associated with an 18 to 21 percent reduction in risk of seizure requiring hospitalization or emergency department care in the year following vaccination, compared with unvaccinated children," the researchers wrote.

"This reduction in childhood seizures complements the well-documented vaccine-related benefit of preventing US diarrhea hospitalizations," they wrote.

This study was published November 20 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. The research was funded by the CDC.

One author has a financial relationship with both of the US pharmaceutical companies that manufacture rotavirus vaccines. This author and two others have also received research grants from the US government.

The other authors reported no other possible conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
November 27, 2013
Last Updated:
November 28, 2013