No Seizure Risk After Measles Vaccine

Vaccination with MMR or MMRV booster does not increase risk of seizure from fever

(RxWiki News) Children getting their second dose of the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine, with or without the chicken pox vaccine, don't need to worry about getting seizures from high fevers.

A recent study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and and Protection found that vaccines for measles, including the two types of combination vaccines, did not increase the risk of seizures from fevers in kids aged four to six.

"Keep your child up to date on CDC-recommended immunizations."

A "febrile" seizure is a seizure caused by a very high fever. Although it does not cause epilepsy or any other lasting damage in a person, it can appear frightening and may worry parents.

Researchers, led by Nicola Klein, MD, PhD, co-director of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center, wanted to find if these febrile seizures might be more likely following certain vaccinations.

The researchers tracked 86,750 children between the ages of four and six years old after they received the measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox vaccines. These vaccines are given twice: once after a child turns one and a booster sometime between ages 4 to 6.

The children were enrolled in the nationwide Vaccine Safety Datalink program during the time of January 2000 and October 2008. Some children in the study received only the MMR or the chickenpox vaccine by itself.

The other children received the measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox combined vaccine (MMRV) while others received the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) and the chickenpox (varicella) vaccines separately on the same day.

The researchers found that the children received the MMRV or the MMR and chickenpox vaccine on the same day were no more likely to experience a febrile seizure than the children receiving only one of the two vaccines.

“The results provide reassuring evidence that neither MMRV, nor MMR plus V, appear to be associated with an increased risk of post-vaccination febrile seizures in this 4-6 age group,” said Klein.

In a previous study, researchers did find an increased risk of febrile seizures among children between the ages of one and two following the MMRV combined vaccine. The increased risk did not occur when the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine was given on the same day as the separate chicken pox vaccine.

Even so, febrile seizures are not common from vaccinations, said the researchers.

“It is important to emphasize that it is more common for a child to have a febrile seizure caused by a simple cold than by an immunization," said Randy Bergen, MD, a Kaiser Permanente pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek Medical Center.

"Though febrile seizures are a very scary event for a family, they are not dangerous and do not lead to later epilepsy or seizure disorders,” he said.

The study, funded by the CDC and conducted by the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center, appeared in the April 2 issue of Pediatrics.

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Review Date: 
April 1, 2012