By Dean L. Winslow, MD, FACP, FIDSA

Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medical Disciplines, Division of Infectious Diseases and Geographic Medicine, Stanford University

Dr. Winslow reports no financial relationships relevant to this field of study.

SYNOPSIS: In an analysis of insurance claims for 1.8 million U.S. children with 2,950 recorded seizures, researchers found that the risk of hospitalization for seizures was 24% lower in rotavirus-vaccinated children.

SOURCE: Burke RM, Tate JE, Dahl RM, et al. Rotavirus vaccination is associated with reduced seizure hospitalization risk among commercially insured US children. Clin Infect Dis 2018;67:1614-1616.

Researchers used data for 2006-2014 abstracted from the Truven Health commercial claims and encounters database. Among the 1,773,295 children who were eligible for analysis, there were 2,950 seizures recorded (654 seizures occurred before 6 months of age and were not included in the primary analysis). Seventy-one percent of children in the cohort were fully vaccinated, 15% were partially vaccinated, and 14% were unvaccinated against rotavirus. An extended Cox regression analysis provided a crude hazard ratio for seizure hospitalization of 0.66 when fully vaccinated and unvaccinated children were compared, and 0.88 for partially vaccinated compared to unvaccinated children.

COMMENTARY

Febrile seizures are a common reason for pediatric emergency department treatment and hospitalization, and of course are frightening events for the parents of an affected child. The robust data presented in this paper confirm the earlier estimate of an 18-21% risk reduction in one-year seizure risk among children vaccinated against rotavirus compared to children who were not vaccinated.1

It behooves all of us as adult and pediatric infectious disease specialists (and often as respected leaders in our communities) to advocate strongly for immunization against infectious diseases, especially in the current “anti-science” environment. Coincidentally, New York state now is in the midst of one of the largest measles outbreaks in U.S. history. This is almost entirely related to “anti-vax” sentiment and schools’ lax enforcement of immunization requirements.2 In my opinion, this is inexcusable in the 21st century.

REFERENCES

  1. Payne DC, Baggs J, Zerr DM, et al. Protective association between rotavirus vaccination and childhood seizures in the year following vaccination in US children. Clin Infect Dis 2014;58:173-177.
  2. Shoot B. Why New York’s measles outbreak is the worst in decades. Fortune, Jan. 8, 2019. Available at: http://fortune.com/2019/01/08/new-yorks-measles-outbreak-epidemic/. Accessed Jan. 9, 2019.