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

that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing and can be deadly in infants, especially those under two months of age who are too young to be fully vaccinated. In 1976 there were just over 1,000 reported cases of pertussis in the United States; by 2004, it climbed to nearly 26,000 cases. Between 2000 and 2005 there were 140 deaths resulting from pertussis in the United States.

The best way to prevent pertussis is through vaccinations. The childhood vaccine, DTaP, is a "3-in-1" immunization that protects against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus. It is given in a series to children at two months, four months, six months and 15-18 months of age, and a booster is given before kindergarten. The DTaP vaccine, like other routine childhood immunizations, has been shown to be more than 98 percent effective.

To assess the risk of DTaP refusal, researchers reviewed the electronic health records of children between the ages of two months and 18 years who were members of Kaiser Permanente Colorado between 1996 and 2007. First, investigators confirmed which children had pertussis infections. Next, they verified whether parents had refused some or all vaccines for their children.

The researchers found 156 laboratory-confirmed pertussis cases that met the study's criteria. They compared these cases to four times as many children of the same age and gender who were not infected with pertussis. Based on this analysis, the researchers discovered that children of vaccine refusers were 23 times more likely to be infected with whooping cough than vaccinated children.

"As a father of young children, I understand that vaccines can pose confusing and difficult choices, so the purpose of this research is to give parents more information to weigh the benefits and risks, and to provide pediatricians with more information to help participate in the discussion," Glanz said.

According to pediatrician and co-author Matthew F. Daley, MD, of The Childr
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Contact: Danielle Cass
danielle.x.cass@kp.org
510-267-5354
Kaiser Permanente
Source:Eurekalert

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