MONDAY, Oct. 3 (HealthDay News) -- More than one in 10 parents don't follow recommended vaccination guidelines for their children, opting instead for an "alternative" schedule that could involve skipping doses or delaying shots.
And parents who do follow official recommendations show some inclination to move toward an alternative schedule, according to new research.
The findings alarm the authors of the study, published in the November issue of Pediatrics.
"This really highlights to me that there's probably going to be a continuing increase in the number of parents who choose to follow alternative schedules," said study author Dr. Amanda Dempsey. "We really need to start allocating government and educational resources to stem the growing tide of discontent about vaccines among parents."
This isn't the first time investigators have noticed the shift.
"There's been a trend over the past couple of decades of parents changing the vaccination schedule," said Dempsey, an assistant professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. "We've seen evidence that this can have detrimental effects because there have been more and more outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles, pertussis and mumps, [as a result of] vaccination rates being lower than recommended."
One study found that every 1 percent increase in the number of under-immunized children doubled the risk of pertussis (whooping cough).
In this study, the authors gave "alternative" a broad meaning, namely anything other than the schedule recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About 750 parents of children aged 6 months to 6 years responded to an Internet survey in May of 2010.
Thirteen percent of parents surveyed reporting using an alternative schedule. Of these, more than half (53
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