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Vaccines cause seizures? Not really and you shouldn’t worry about it

Posted April 30, 2019

Every once in a while vaccines come back to the spotlight of attention with public dividing into two opposing camps. Some people spread misinformation about potential dangers of vaccines and regard them as unnecessary or even a part of a big conspiracy. For example, vaccines sometimes may cause febrile seizures, which is scaring some parents away from this important decision. Now scientists from University of Sydney clarified association between vaccines and febrile seizures.

Vaccines may cause seizures in small babies, but it is actually nothing to worry about too much. Image credit: James Gathany via Wikimedia

Febrile seizure is a common type of childhood seizure. It affects 1 out of 30 babies, but usually this scary condition leaves the child without any permanent damage. Febrile seizures are usually caused be fevers, which are usually caused by viral infections. However, vaccines can also result in fevers and, therefore, could contribute to febrile seizures. And they do – it is not a lie or a conspiracy theory. However, scientists found that febrile seizure following vaccinations are very rare and relatively harmless – definitely less harmful than diseases that are prevented with these vaccines.

Australian scientists conducted a research and found that febrile seizures following vaccination accounted only for 6 per cent of all first febrile seizure presentations to hospital. Typically Australian babies receive 13 vaccines before reaching the age of 2. With febrile seizures being so scary, it is understandable that parents are concerned. However, scientists want to remind everyone that febrile seizures are short-lived, self-resolving and don’t require long treatment. In fact, even those children who do not get vaccines can get febrile seizures, so what’s the fuss?

Febrile seizures are the most common type of seizures between small children. They are caused by fevers. Vaccines introduce small modified portions of a virus, which provides this information to body’s immune system, making it aware of the threat and how to cope with it. However, at the same time immune system is reacting, which may result in a fever. At the end of the day, it is fever causing the febrile seizure and not the vaccine. And vaccines are not the only factors causing fevers.

Associate Professor Nicholas Wood, senior author of the study, said: „We hope this gives parents the confidence to continue vaccinating their children, especially now at a time when there have been cases of both measles and whooping cough and we prepare to enter into the flu season“.

Vaccines are very important. It is one of the greatest scientific achievements of all time. While they do sometimes cause harmful side effects, the risks are miniscule, especially in comparison with that these vaccines are preventing. Febrile seizures are nothing to worry about – they are common and absolute majority of the cases resolve themselves without a treatment.


Source: University of Sydney

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