Vaccine for Rotavirus Not Linked to Bowel Problems
The rotavirus vaccine does not cause bowel problems in infants after all, a new study suggests. According to Reuters, researchers from Harvard Medical School found that concerns that the rotavirus vaccine blocks bowels in infants are unfounded, and that the vaccine is perfectly safe.
Previous concerns over its side effects led an early version of the vaccine—designed to protect against severe diarrhea—to be pulled from the market in the United States.
For the study, researchers analyzed 800,000 infants that were given doses of the vaccine and compared their medical records to babies who did not receive the vaccine. Over the next five years, they found that vaccinated babies were no more likely than non-vaccinated babies to be hospitalized for intussusception—a condition in which parts of the intestine slide into one another like a telescope.
Some risk remains connected to the rotavirus vaccine, but researcher Irene Shui said the team’s work proves that the benefits outweigh the risks.
“We can’t rule out that a low-level risk could exist,” Shui told Reuters. “[But] our results do add to the message that even if there was a low-level risk of intussusception, the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh those risks.”
Cases of intussusception were the reason the early form of the vaccine was pulled from the market just one year after it was introduced in the U.S. Two newer vaccines don’t display as widespread of a problem. In fact, rotavirus vaccine has prevented up to 50,000 diarrhea hospitalizations in the U.S. each year, Shui said.