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Swine flu jab linked to narcolepsy

29th March 2012

New concerns have been raised over a pandemic swine flu vaccine used in Britain and a link to narcolepsy in children.


A study has found that children who had been vaccinated are 13 times more likely to suffer from the condition.

Scandinavian researchers found that children vaccinated against the H1N1 swine flu virus with Pandemrix were more likely to develop the sleep disorder narcolepsy, which causes excessive daytime sleepiness and sufferers can fall asleep suddenly and unintentionally.

UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, said it was aware of the findings and that more work is being carried out on the suspected link, including a study led by the Health Protection Agency.

The latest study, published in the journal Public Library of Sciences One, found that between 2002 and 2009 (before the swine flu pandemic) the rate of narcolepsy in children under 17 was 0.31 per 100,000 but in 2010 this was about 17 times higher at 5.3 per 100,000 while the narcolepsy rate remained the same in adults.

The Helsinki Sleep Clinic and the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland, also collected vaccination and childhood narcolepsy data for children born between January 1991 and December 2005 and found that in those who were vaccinated the rate of narcolepsy was nine per 100,000 compared to 0.7 per 100,000 unvaccinated children, or 13 times lower.

Professor Sir David Salisbury, director of immunisation at the Department of Health, said: “The Department of Health is aware of the Finnish data, and keeps all new evidence under review.”


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