This month, the American College of Pediatricians (the College) updated its position statement on Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines in light of the most up-to-date research pertaining to the virus and the vaccines. The revised position statement on HPV vaccines has been declared pertinent to patients and healthcare providers. A new statement regarding potential links between at least one of the HPV vaccines and ovarian dysfunction has been added to its position statement. New research is reportedly in the works that will investigate this potential link further, according to the position statement.
“A Vaccine Safety Datalink POF study is planned to address an association between these vaccines and POF, but it may be years before results will be determined. Plus, POF within a few years of vaccination could be the tip of the iceberg since ovarian dysfunction manifested by months of amenorrhea may later progress to POF.”
— PersistentProLifeR (@BuhayIpaglaban) November 21, 2014
The position, according to Dr. Scott Field, who is both a board member of the College and a member of its Scientific Policy Committee, has been shared with regulatory agencies, Field states in a press release.
“The information regarding this new concern has been shared with the FDA and CDC. A study reportedly is being planned to look at a possible link between premature ovarian failure and HPV vaccination.”
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted virus, and according to the press release, approximately 14 types of HPV are believed to cause multiple cancers. The most common cancer that has been causally linked to HPV is cervical cancer. In the U.S., about 4,000 women die of cervical cancer each year. There are multiple risk factors for cervical cancer, including HPV, according to The American Cancer Society.
“Several risk factors increase your chance of developing cervical cancer. Women without any of these risk factors rarely develop cervical cancer. Although these risk factors increase the odds of developing cervical cancer, many women with these risks do not develop this disease. When a woman develops cervical cancer or pre-cancerous changes, it may not be possible to say with certainty that a particular risk factor was the cause.”
Besides HPV, risk factors include smoking, HIV or other immune system conditions, chlamydia, diets low in fruits and vegetables, being overweight, birth control pills, IUDs, being younger than 17-year-old and experiencing a full term pregnancy, poverty, family history, and exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a hormonal drug that was prescribed between 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage. Women whose mothers were given DES while pregnant with them sometimes develop clear-cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina or cervix.
Three vaccines have been licensed since 2006 that aim to prevent cervical cancer caused by HPV. If a cervical cancer is caused by HPV, women experience “chronic HPV infection that manifests as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) years prior to developing into cervical cancer,” the College states.
According to the College, peer reviewed reports describe rare cases of premature ovarian failure following HPV vaccination and a subsequent investigation by the College revealed a possible link between premature ovarian failure/premature menopause as well as amenorrhea (absence of period) for at least four months following HPV vaccination, so the College has requested that both the FDA and the ACIP investigate this potential link further, though it still recommends vaccination to all children and young adults in the meantime, including children who choose abstinence due to “potential risk circumstances beyond an individual’s control, including sexual assault and the infection of one’s future spouse.”
The College did, however, state that the use of HPV vaccines should not be mandated by regulatory authorities.
“The College is opposed to any legislation which requires HPV vaccination for school attendance. Excluding children from school over refusal to vaccinate for a disease spread only by sexual intercourse is a serious, precedent-setting action that trespasses on the right of parents to make medical decisions for their children.”
The College further stated that the choice of HPV vaccination could be taken into consideration. Its statement claims that Gardasil-9 probably offers more benefits than both the traditional Gardasil vaccine and the Cervarix vaccine, but the Cervarix vaccine has shown no link with ovarian failure and is probably just as effective at preventing cervical cancer, the College claims.
— alicia boone (@aliboo719) December 15, 2015
If you or your child has experienced similar or other adverse events following HPV vaccination, or any vaccination, the event should be reported, even if no cause is established, to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a national vaccine safety surveillance program run by CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Please report all significant adverse events that occur after vaccination of adults and children, even if you are not sure whether the vaccine caused the adverse event. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) accepts all reports, including reports of vaccination errors.”