WEDNESDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health experts say the controversy triggered by Monday's Republican presidential debate over the human papillomavirus vaccine for pre-teen girls is generating misinformation about the shots' value.
During the debate, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota criticized Texas Gov. Rick Perry for mandating that sixth-grade girls in his state get the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer later in life. On television the next day, Bachmann, who had argued that the order violated individual rights, also said she had heard from a mother she met that the vaccine had caused mental retardation in the woman's 12-year-old daughter.
That's unlikely, experts said.
"This is a very safe vaccine," said infectious disease expert Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University. "The benefit of this vaccine so outweighs any rare risk that it's not worth considering side effects.
"What is going on right now," added Siegel, "is a political backlash against the whole idea of vaccines. You are seeing vicious rumors circulating because of the debate."
The American Academy of Pediatrics also tried to squelch concerns over the vaccine's safety.
"There is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement. Since the vaccine has been introduced, more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record," Dr. O. Marion Burton, academy president, said in a news release.
Dr. Judy Schaechter, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said, "We have not seen any cases of mental retardation caused by this vaccine and there is no reason to suspect that that would happen.
"For mental retardation to start in any 12-year-old is an odd occurrence," she said. "I don't have an explanation for that -- I've never seen it as an adolescent m
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