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Childhood Asthma and Aluminum in Vaccines

Vaccines have been pivotal in protecting adults and children against some of the most infectious diseases known to humankind. Nevertheless, scientists continue to study the long-term effects of these vaccines, and ongoing research guides on improving vaccine development and distribution. 

A recent study reveals a possible link between aluminum in some childhood vaccines and persistent asthma among children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the agency funding the study, the findings are preliminary and deserve cautious interpretation. 

Because these results are inconclusive, they will not prompt the CDC to change its current vaccine recommendations for young children. 

Is There a Link Between Aluminum in Vaccines and Childhood Asthma? 

A study recently published in Academic Pediatrics suggests a possible connection between aluminum in vaccines administered to children under two and the development of persistent asthma before the age of five. However, scientists warn against interpreting these findings as decisive. Instead, this study is a springboard that is prompting researchers to conduct additional studies to confirm these results. 

In light of these preliminary findings, the CDC advises that parents and guardians continue to follow standard immunization schedules based on their doctors’ recommendations. Going forward, officials with the CDC, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institutes of Health are discussing additional research to determine whether future studies can replicate the current findings. 

The CDC notes that the addition of aluminum to vaccines occurred in 1991, before documented increases in asthma among young children starting in 1980. Other factors can also influence an uptick in asthma cases, which were not taken into account in the present study. 

Overall, public health experts caution against concluding vaccine safety based on one study, which is currently exploratory rather than definitive. Therefore, there is no valid reason for parents to be hesitant to vaccinate their children. 

Why Is There Aluminum in Some Vaccines? 

Many vaccines contain adjuvants, ingredients that make immunizations more effective by creating more robust protection. Some adjuvants are weakened germs that naturally occur and boost the body’s immunity. Many of these additives target specific immune responses, increasing the amount of defense against illnesses for more extended periods. 

Aluminum salts like aluminum hydroxide and aluminum potassium sulfate are adjuvants that have been in vaccines for diphtheria and tetanus since the 1930s. The amount of aluminum in a vaccine is so tiny that the body typically does not absorb it after vaccination. 

Are Childhood Vaccines Still Safe? 

Vaccinating your child is essential to protect them against painful and life-altering diseases like measles and pertussis (whooping cough). The CDC maintains that vaccinations in the United States are safe and provide a defense against many dangerous but preventable diseases. As previously stated, the CDC will not change its vaccine-related recommendations. 

Dr. Matthew Daley, the first author of the Academic Pediatrics study, confirms the CDC’s stance. Dr. Daley claims he will continue to recommend and deliver immunizations as a physician. He states, “I’m still going to advocate for vaccines as strongly as I did before we had these findings.” 

With the plethora of misinformation circulating about vaccinations, it is understandable that you might worry about the effect of these drugs on your child’s health. For example, some parents or guardians have worried that immunizations will cause autism in their children. Fortunately, this fear is unfounded. According to the CDC, there is no evidence that the ingredients in vaccines can cause autism. 

Nevertheless, all vaccines come with minimal risks, such as swelling and soreness at the injection site, low-grade fever, and some fussiness. However, most mild symptoms will disappear in a day or two. You should consult a qualified physician to treat more serious symptoms like allergic reactions. 

Although side effects from immunizations are always possible, the risks are relatively small compared to the benefits of enhanced immunity and lifelong protection. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves all vaccines children and adults receive. The FDA and the CDC continuously monitor the effects of these drugs for their effectiveness and safety during clinical trials and after they have been released for use. 

The CDC strongly recommends vaccinating your child to safeguard them against various diseases. Parents and guardians can consult the CDC’s suggested vaccination schedule for children under age 18. Adults 19 years and older can also access a list of immunizations and a schedule for receiving them. 

If you have questions or concerns about the safety of certain vaccines, you can get more information from the CDC about specific immunizations. 

Research and materials for this article were compiled, written, and distributed on behalf of the National Public Health Information Coalition. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the various authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the National Public Health Information Coalition or its members.