Is childhood immunisation associated with atopic disease from age 7 to 32 years?
Nakajima, K and Dharmage, SC and Carlin, JB and Wharton, CL and Jenkins, MA and Giles, GG and Abramson, MJ and Walters, EH and Hooper, JL, Is childhood immunisation associated with atopic disease from age 7 to 32 years?, Thorax, 62, (3) pp. 270-275. ISSN 0040-6376 (2006) [Refereed Article]
Background: There is ongoing conjecture over whether childhood immunisation leads to an increased risk of
developing atopic diseases.
Objective: To examine associations between childhood immunisation and the risk of atopic disease.
Method: Immunisation histories of 8443 Tasmanian children born in 1961 obtained from school medical
records were linked to the Tasmanian Asthma Study. Associations between immunisation status and atopic
diseases were examined while adjusting for possible confounders using multiple logistic regression.
Results: Diphtheria immunisation was weakly associated with an increased risk of asthma by age 7 years
(odds ratio (OR) 1.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1 to 1.7), but there was no evidence of any association
for four other vaccinations studied. An increased risk of eczema by age 7 years was associated with
immunisation against diphtheria (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1 to 2.1), tetanus (OR 1.5, 95% CI, 1.1 to 2.0), pertussis
(OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1 to 1.9) and polio (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.0 to 1.9) but not small pox. Similar but slightly
weaker patterns of association were observed between the risk of food allergies and immunisation against
diphtheria (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.0 to 2.1), pertussis (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.1 to 1.9), polio (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.00 to
2.1) and tetanus (OR 1.30 95% CI 0.99 to 1.70), but not with small pox. There was no evidence of
associations between immunisation history and hay fever, or incidence of later-onset atopic outcomes.
Conclusions: The few effects seen in this study are small and age-dependent, and nearly all our findings
support numerous previous studies of no effect of vaccines on asthma. Based on these findings, the fear of
their child developing atopic disease should not deter parents from immunising their children, especially when
weighed against the benefits.