Febrile Seizures More Likely After MMRV Vaccine

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According to a recent study funded by the Centers for Disease Constrol and Prevention, toddlers given doses for the varicella (chicken pox) vaccine in combination with the traditional MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine are twice as likely to have febrile seizures as those who take the varicella vaccine separately.

Study Details

Although these stats may sound initially alarming, Dr. Nicola Klein, co-author of the study, strongly maintains that the risk for these seizures is still very small.

In order to explain the bottom line results of her research, she states that risk of febrile seizure in those toddlers who took the vaccine amounted to 1 additional febrile seizure per 2,300 doses.
For the study, 459,000 children vaccinated from either the combination dose or separate doses from 2000-2008 were studied.  Dr. Klein and her colleagues discovered that this additional risk of febrile seizure is elevated approximately 7-10 days after the vaccines are given. 

What are Febrile Seizures?

Febrile Seizures are brief convulsions brought on by a fever.  According to the United States Institute of Neurological Disorders, most of these seizures occur in about 5% of children with a rectal temperature of 102 degrees or higher.  Per the Institute's website, some of the other characteristics of febrile seizures are as follows:

*They are more likely to occur in younger children from 6 months to about 5 years of age
*They are more likely to occur in children who have family members who have had them in the past
*They do not indicate that a child will have recurring seizures from a neurological disorder in the future.

CDC Recommendation

In response to the above study, the CDC is now recommending that the initial doses of the MMR and Varicella vaccines be given separately, unless parents have a preference to combine them.  Those children with a family history of seizures should all doses given separately.

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