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Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Aug 15;168(4):434-42. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwn159. Epub 2008 Jul 2.

Birth defects among infants born to women who received anthrax vaccine in pregnancy.

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  • 1US Department of Defense Center for Deployment Health Research, Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, CA 92106, USA.


In response to bioterrorism threats, anthrax vaccine has been used by the US military and considered for civilian use. Concerns exist about the potential for adverse reproductive health effects among vaccine recipients. This retrospective cohort evaluated birth defects, in relation to maternal anthrax vaccination, among all infants born to US military service women between 1998 and 2004. Department of Defense databases defined maternal vaccination and infant diagnoses; multivariable regression models described potential associations between anthrax vaccination and birth defects in liveborn infants. Among 115,169 infants born to military women during this period, 37,140 were born to women ever vaccinated against anthrax, and 3,465 were born to women vaccinated in the first trimester of pregnancy. Birth defects were slightly more common in first trimester-exposed infants (odds ratio = 1.18, 95% confidence interval: 0.997, 1.41) when compared with infants of women vaccinated outside of the first trimester, but this association was statistically significant only when alternative referent groups were used. Although the small observed association may be unlikely to represent a causal relation between vaccination in early pregnancy and birth defects, this information should be considered when making decisions about administering anthrax vaccine to pregnant women.

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