Febrile Seizure Risk Not Linked to MMRV Vaccine Booster in New Study

A new study examining the link between the Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella vaccination (MMRV) booster in 4 to 6 year old children found no link between the shot and febrile seizures.

Febrile seizures- short, non-fatal episodes that are not linked with brain damage- had in previous studies been linked with the MMRV shots given to children between the ages of one and two. The study, in 2008, discovered toddlers given the MMRV shot instead of MMR and V separately, were twice as likely to experience febrile seizures seven to ten days after the vaccine was administered.

It’s good timing for the study to be released, as data was published last week by the CDC concerning climbing autism rates in the United States. And while a controversial study linking autism and vaccines has been widely discredited since it was published in the 90’s, the erroneous link in the minds of parents between vaccines and autism remains- so any information counteracting vaccine fears, even those about febrile seizures, could be of use for doctors dealing with nervous parents.

In a news release about this most recent study concerning the MMRV booster and febrile seizures, Dr. Nicola Klein, the study’s lead author, comments:

“The results provide reassuring evidence that neither MMRV nor MMR plus V appear to be associated with an increased risk of post-vaccination febrile seizures in this 4-to-6 age group… As febrile seizures are generally much less likely to occur among 4- to 6-year-old children, it is not surprising that we did not detect increased febrile seizures following MMRV or MMR plus V among 4- to 6-year-olds.”

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Dr. Bruce Hirsch commented to US News and World Report about the study’s findings. He says that febrile seizures can certainly be frightening to parents, but that the risk posed by them is minimal:

“Families of 4- to 6-year-olds can be reassured from this study that the combination MMRV vaccine is safe… Febrile seizures are scary; the child develops a high fever and convulses,” he said. “The condition is surprisingly common and can occur after colds and other viral infections.”

The study concerning the MMRV booster and febrile seizures can be found in the most recent edition of the medical journal Pediatrics.