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No Link Between Hepatitis B Shot, MS: Study

New research may help resolve ongoing debate

MONDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- There's no link between vaccination to protect against hepatitis B and the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) in childhood, a new study finds.

A number of previous studies have investigated a possible association between the hepatitis B vaccine and MS in adults and most found no evidence of increased short- or long-term risk of MS. However, the studies were criticized for problems with their methodology, including how participants' vaccination status was confirmed. This controversy created public doubts about the hepatitis B vaccine, according to background information in the study.

In this new study, French researchers compared 143 children who developed MS before age 16 with a control group of 1,122 age- and sex-matched MS-free participants in the general population.

About 32 percent of both the MS patients and the control group participants had received the hepatitis B vaccine.

Vaccination against hepatitis B within the three-year study period was not associated with an increased rate of a first episode of MS. "The rate was also not increased for hepatitis B vaccination within six months of the index date or any time since birth or as a function of the number of injections or the brand of hepatitis B vaccine," the study authors wrote.

"Vaccination against hepatitis B does not seem to increase the risk of a first episode of MS in childhood," they concluded.

The findings are published in the December issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about hepatitis B.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Dec. 3, 2007

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