Primal Health Databank: Study

Entry No:0126
Title:Whooping cough vaccination and asthma in childhood: is there a link?
Author(s):Odent MR
Reference:Primal Health Research Newsletter 1997; 4(4): 3-6
Place of Study:Primal Health Research Centre, London, England
Abstract:A study complementary to study number 0124 is presented. In order to reduce the context effect a similar protocol was used in another environment (British Steiner Schools). 274 questionnaires were analysed from pupils aged 5-17. Among the 125 pupils vaccinated against whooping cough, 23 were diagnosed as asthmatic (18.4%). Among the 149 non-immunised, 6 were diagnosed asthmatic (4.02 %). Among the 149 who had not been immunised for whooping cough, 41 had no vaccinations at all, and 108 had other vaccinations. Among the 41 there was 1 case of asthma (2.4%) and among the 108 there were 5 cases of asthma (4.63%). When combining these results with the 'La Leche League Study', 132 subjects were identified who had no vaccinations at all. Amongst this group there was 2 cases of asthma (1.51%), whereas amongst the 220 who had no pertussis vaccination but had other vaccinations there were 8 cases (3.64%). The difference is not statistically significant.
Keyword(s):asthma, whooping cough vaccination
Discussion:Such results confirm the La Leche League study (entry 0124). Such studies have to face major difficulties. The first reason for difficulties is that one cannot rely on prospective randomised controlled studies which are recognised as the most effective ways to evaluate the ratio of benefits to risks for any medical procedure. Another difficulty is that whooping cough vaccination is never received in isolation. Yet another difficulty is that enquiries about the background of asthmatic children do not take into account the immunisation status. Several interpretations are proposed to interpret such results: the first one is that whooping cough vaccination is associated with another factor that has not yet been taken into account and is the actual culprit. The second one is that whooping cough vaccination has an indirect effect by increasing the rate of infections in the upper respiratory tract. By combining the results of both studies it is clear that the rate of ear infections is twice higher in the immunised group (ear infection is often associated with the use of antibiotics). The third interpretation is that there is a cause and effect relationship between whooping cough vaccination (and the vaccinations which are constantly associated with it) and asthma.
See Also:0124

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