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Vaccine Combo May Land Infants in ER: Study

Five-shot mix poses fever risk to one in 100 babies, researchers find

THURSDAY, Sept. 21, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Infants who receive a new combination of vaccines may end up in the emergency room, according to a new study.

In the current issue of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, researchers from the University of Florida and Columbia University in New York City report that infants who received a shot that mixes five vaccines plus two other standard shots were more likely to visit the emergency room, undergo blood tests, and be treated with vaccines in response to fevers after their shots.

The five-vaccine shot was introduced in 2003, and protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and hepatitis B. The other two shots protect against bacterial infections such as pneumonia and meningitis.

"Reducing the number of shots is wonderful, but it just happens that when you combine it with the two other shots also routinely given, there is an increased risk of fever," lead study author Dr. Lindsay Thompson, a University of Florida assistant professor of pediatrics, said in a prepared statement.

For the study, the researchers examined nearly 4,000 records from Columbia University's health-care system. They found that one of every 100 babies who were given the combination of shots visited the emergency room for fevers.

These fevers are generally harmless to infants, Thompson said, but they may result in unnecessary testing or exposure to emergency-room germs.

Thompson stressed that the combination vaccine is safe and used across the United States, but more research is needed to determine how to evaluate infants' fevers after vaccines to avoid exposing them to unnecessary tests and antibiotics.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about childhood vaccines.

SOURCE: University of Florida Health Science Center, news release, Sept. 6, 2006
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