The combined measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox) (MMRV) vaccine has demonstrated an increased risk of febrile seizures in children when compared to individual MMR+V vaccinations.
A paper published on Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests that children who received the MMRV showed a rise in adverse events when compared to children who received MMR and Varicella vaccines separately.
The seizures, which are often accompanied by high fevers, are not linked to long term health issues such as epilepsy. But this of course does little to settle to distress of parents and children to who experience the seizures which can last between 2 and 3 minutes.
The study’s lead author, Shannon MacDonald from the University of Calgary, points out that whilst the threat of seizures from the MMRV are higher when compared to the MMR (roughly twice as high), the risk of seizures are dramatically higher if a child contracts the measles.
The report looked at data from 227,774 thousand Alberta children between 12 and 13 months between 2006 and 2010. The results found that for the MMRV there were three-four seizures for every 10,000 doses administered.
The MMRV vaccine was developed in order to reduce the number of vaccinations children receive in an attempt to lessen distress caused to poth parents and children – a common barrier to vaccine uptake. Of course the advantages of MMRV could well diminish in light of these results as, whilst instances of seizures and fever are rare, it doesn’t take much in the current climate to put people off vaccinations.
These results are consistent with a similar report published in 2010 that looked at the effects of a US MMRV vaccine (ProQuad). The study resulted in the removal of ProQuad from the US recommended vaccine schedule prompting a return to MMR+V.
Find the paper here.