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Refusing immunizations puts children at increased risk of pertussis infection
Date:5/25/2009

May 26, 2009 (DENVER) Children of parents who refuse vaccines are 23 times more likely to get whooping cough compared to fully immunized children, according to a new study led by a vaccine research team at Kaiser Permanente Colorado's Institute for Health Research.

The study will appear in the June 2009 issue of the journal Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, this is the first study to use electronic health records to look for immunization refusal and possible pertussis infections, making it the most definitive on the risk of vaccine refusal to date.

While most families vaccinate their children, leading to dramatic reductions in several serious childhood illnesses, the number of parents refusing immunizations appears to be increasing in the United States, researchers say. The study could not determine from the information available why parents elected to refuse vaccines. The study also did not evaluate the side effects of vaccines.

The study findings are important for parents who cite low risk of infection as a reason to choose fewer or no immunizations, and for researchers who are concerned that decreased immunization rates could lead to more disease outbreaks across the country.

"This study helps dispel one of the commonly held beliefs among vaccine-refusing parents: that their children are not at risk for vaccine preventable diseases," said study lead author Jason Glanz, Ph.D., a senior scientist at Kaiser Permanente's Institute for Health Research. "It also shows that the decision to refuse immunizations could have important ramifications for the health of the entire community. Based on our analysis, we found that one in 10 additional whooping cough infections could have been prevented by immunization."

Pertussis more commonly known as whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease
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Contact: Danielle Cass
danielle.x.cass@kp.org
510-267-5354
Kaiser Permanente
Source:Eurekalert

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