WEDNESDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- A new European study
finds that the supercharged vaccines used to fight the H1N1
epidemic in 2009 may not have boosted the risk for a disease known
as Guillain-Barre syndrome after all.
Guillain-Barre is a rare disorder, which causes a person's
immune system to damage nerve cells, resulting in muscle weakness
and even paralysis.
In 1976, a vaccine used during a U.S. flu outbreak was linked to
the disease, and the government halted vaccination. Debate has
continued since then over whether vaccines in use could trigger the
In a study published July 13 in the journal
BMJ, a consortium of researchers reported that the H1N1 vaccine posed little, if any, increased risk for the disease.
"This study provides reassurance that adjuvanted pandemic influenza A (H1N1) 2009 vaccines did not increase the risk of Guillain-Barre syndrome substantially, if at all," they wrote in a journal news release.
Their conclusion stemmed from an analysis of 50 million people
in five European countries that vaccinated people against H1N1 in
2009. The researchers compared 104 people with Guillain-Barre
syndrome or a related condition to other people without the
The researchers adjusted their statistics to account for other
risk factors for the diseases and found no link between flu
vaccination and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Still, noting that it's
possible a small risk might remain, they estimated there may be
less than three extra cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome for each one
million people who get protected by a flu vaccination.
Larger studies already in progress should provide even more
definitive information, the study authors added.
For more about
flu vaccination, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.