I didn’t know it was an issue, but apparently there was some concern that there was a small possibility that vaccines, specifically the hepatitis B (HepB) and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, might increase the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) or some other acquired central nervous system demyelinating syndrome (CNS ADS). Apparently, there have been numerous studies examining the possibility that vaccines are related to these neurological disorders with mixed results. However, most of the studies showed no association between vaccines and these disorders, though most of the studies had significant limitations based on small numbers of patients included and some other factors.
If there is actually a causal relationship between vaccines and MS or CNS ADS, it could cause a sea change in the acceptance of vaccines, especially HepB and HPV, which are critical to preventing a number of serious cancers. A recent study, led by Annette Langer-Gould, M.D., Ph.D., of Kaiser Permanente, Southern California, examined the relationship between vaccines, especially HPV and HepB, and MS and CNS ADS, using electronic data from a broad group of Kaiser Permanente Southern California members.
Dr. Langer-Gould and her colleagues conducted a nested case-control study, a type of case-control study that more carefully matches control risk factors, using that data from Kaiser. The authors identified 780 cases of CNS ADS and 3,885 control group patients; 92 cases and 459 control patients were females between the ages of 9 to 26 years, which is the indicated age range for HPV vaccination.
The researchers found that there were no associations between HepB, HPV or other vaccines and an increase risk of MS or CNS ADS, even up to three years post-vaccination. Just to be clear, vaccination of any type was associated with an increased risk of CNS ADS within the first month, but this association disappeared after one month. The researchers suggested that vaccines (like any infection) could accelerate the transition from a subclinical to clinical autoimmunity (including MS) in patients with preexisting autoimmune disease. In other words, any challenge to the immune system, whether from vaccines or from any of hundreds of infections, would have accelerated the autoimmune disorder. Let me repeat–the vaccination was irrelevant, it could have been any infection that caused it during those initial 30 days.
According to the research, “there were no associations between HepB vaccination (odds ratio [OR], 1.12; 95% CI, 0.72-1.73), HPV vaccination (OR, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.62-1.78), or any vaccination (OR, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.86-1.22) and the risk of CNS ADS up to 3 years later.”
They concluded that, “our data do not support a causal link between current vaccines and the risk of MS or other CNS ADS. Our findings do not warrant any change in vaccine policy.”
Once again we find that vaccines are not associated with with serious neurological conditions. And the HPV vaccine, as I’ve written on numerous occasions, is incredibly safe and effective in preventing several types of cancer. This is another study in support of the safety of HPV vaccines.
- Langer-Gould A, Qian L, Tartof SY, Brara SM, Jacobsen SJ, Beaber BE, Sy LS, Chao C, Hechter R, Tseng HF. Vaccines and the Risk of Multiple Sclerosis and Other Central Nervous System Demyelinating Diseases. JAMA Neurol. 2014 Oct 20. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2014.2633. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 25329096.
- Martínez-Sernández V, Figueiras A. Central nervous system demyelinating diseases and recombinant hepatitis B vaccination: a critical systematic review of scientific production. J Neurol. 2013 Aug;260(8):1951-9. doi: 10.1007/s00415-012-6716-y. Epub 2012 Oct 20. Review. PubMed PMID: 23086181.