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Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2004 Oct;15(5):401-7.

Influence of MMR-vaccinations and diseases on atopic sensitization and allergic symptoms in Swiss schoolchildren.

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Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases, CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland.


The prevalence of asthma and allergic disease has increased in many countries. It has been proposed that vaccinations may contribute to the development of allergic disease by reducing clinical infections in infancy or through the direct IgE-inducing effects of the vaccines. Evidence for a potential role of immunizations in the development of allergic disease is scarce. Therefore the objective was to study the associations between vaccinations against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), natural infections of these diseases and atopic sensitization to indoor and outdoor allergens and allergic symptoms in schoolchildren. The cross-sectional study including 1537 8(th) grade school children aged 13-15 years living in 10 communities across Switzerland was organized in the framework of an environmental health surveillance program within the School Health Services (Swiss Surveillance Program of Childhood Asthma and Allergies with respect to Air Pollution and Climate, SCARPOL). Main outcome measures were asthma and sneezing during pollen season assessed by parental questionnaires and atopic sensitization determined by IgE concentrations to various allergens. It was found that parents' reported history of measles or mumps was associated with a stronger immune response than two or more vaccinations against the respective infection (measles: geometric mean IgG titers (GMT) lU/ml (95% Cl) 2.8 (2.0-3.9) vs. 1.2 (1.0-1.4), mumps: GMT PE/ml (95% Cl) 16.3 (13.9-19.1) vs. 8.5 (6.1-11.7). With respect to atopic sensitization similar associations for exposure by natural MMR-infections or MMR-vaccinations were found: measles: OR (95% Cl) 1.02 (0.53-1.96) vs. 1.22 (0.69-2.16), mumps: 0.59 (0.38-0.93) vs. 0.79 (0.49-1.27), rubella: 0.93 (0.61-1.43) vs. 0.95 (0.66-1.37), respectively. Inverse relationships were found between the risk of asthma and a positive disease history or vaccination of measles 0.36 (0.14-0.91) vs. 0.45 (0.21-0.98) or a positive serum titer against measles 0.65 (0.35-1.20). From the present study can be concluded that exposure by MMR-vaccinations or natural MMR-infections in childhood does not increase the risk of sensitization to common allergens as well as to allergic respiratory diseases. MMR-vaccinations or natural MMR-infections are therefore an unlikely factor contributing to the increase in atopic disease in developed countries.

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