Asthma and allergy in children with and without prior measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination

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Abstract

Background:

The existing literature on the association between measles vaccination and subsequent risk of allergic disease is inconclusive. The aim of this study was, therefore, to determine whether measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination administered in early childhood was associated with asthma and allergic diseases at ages 5, 7 and 13 yrs in a birth cohort.

Methods:

In the Faroe Islands, 640 children were followed from birth. Follow-up examinations at ages 5, 7 and 13 yrs included a physical examination and a maternal questionnaire about the child's health. At age 7, total and grass-specific IgE was quantified in the child's serum, and at age 13, the children underwent skin prick tests (SPT). The child's vaccination card was reviewed at examinations.

Results:

At age 5, 533 of 555 children had been vaccinated for MMR. After confounder adjustment, we found early life MMR vaccination to be associated with a two-third reduction in the odds of asthma (OR: 0.33, 95% CI: 0.12; 0.90) and hypersensitivity/allergy (OR: 0.32, 95% CI: 0.11; 0.88) at age 5, and the substantially decreased odds of asthma were replicated at age 13 (OR: 0.22, 95% CI: 0.08; 0.56). At age 7, serum total IgE was reduced by 62.8% (CI 95%: −84.3%; −11.9%) in the vaccinated children. MMR vaccination was not significantly associated with allergic rhinoconjuctivitis symptoms, eczema, or SPT reactions at age 13.

Conclusions:

MMR vaccination early in life may have a protective effect against allergy at least up to age 7 and against asthma through age 13 yrs.

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