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Hepatitis B Vaccine Not Linked to Childhood-Onset MS

French study finds no correlation between vaccine and multiple sclerosis in children

TUESDAY, Dec. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Being vaccinated against hepatitis B virus does not increase the risk of multiple sclerosis in children, researchers report in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Yann Mikaeloff, M.D., Ph.D., of INSERM in Paris, France, and colleagues followed 143 patients younger than 16 years of age whose first episode of the disease occurred between 1994 and 2003, selected from a national cohort of childhood-onset multiple sclerosis patients in France. Case subjects were matched with 1,122 controls selected from the general population. Families of case subjects and controls answered a questionnaire regarding vaccination histories and other health information. Participants supplied certificates of vaccination.

Exposure to the hepatitis B vaccine was similar between cases and controls (32 percent), and was not associated with a significant increase in the risk of first-episode multiple sclerosis. Among case subjects, there was no significant association between the number of immunizations in the three years before onset of symptoms and the risk of multiple sclerosis. The brand of vaccine used also was not associated with multiple sclerosis risk.

"In conclusion," the authors write, "in this first (to our knowledge), large population-based case-control study in children, the main target population for vaccination campaigns, we found no increase in the risk of multiple sclerosis with exposure to [recombinant] hepatitis B vaccine."

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