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Newer Rotavirus Vaccines Linked to Small but Definite Increase in Intussusception Risk — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
January 15, 2014

Newer Rotavirus Vaccines Linked to Small but Definite Increase in Intussusception Risk

By Joe Elia

Two studies find small but significantly increased risks for intussusception in U.S. infants receiving current rotavirus vaccines. Editorialists in the New England Journal of Medicine emphasize that the benefits trump the risks — estimated to be 1 to 5 cases per 100,000 vaccinees.

One study followed outcomes in some 1.5 million U.S. infants in six integrated healthcare organizations. Compared with historical background rates of intussusception, the recipients of monovalent vaccine showed a relative risk of 8.4. The pentavalent vaccine didn't show increased risk.

The other study found an increased risk with pentavalent vaccine, but was underpowered to evaluate the monovalent form. It involved some 600,000 infant-years of observation.

Editorialists remind clinicians that, despite the risks, "policy makers have concluded that rotavirus vaccine remains a valuable addition to the national program of childhood immunizations." The vaccines are estimated to prevent over 50,000 hospitalizations and 170,000 emergency department visits annually.

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