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9 March 2010

Vaccines That Worry Parents Most

(March 1) -- A new study shows that when it comes to getting their children vaccinated, some parents have conflicted feelings. Even though one in four parents believes some vaccines can trigger autism -- a fear rooted in a controversial 1998 study that has since been retracted -- about 90 percent of them follow medical advice to have their children vaccinated.

The study, conducted by the University of Michigan and published in the journal Pediatrics, is based on a survey of 1,552 parents that was conducted last year, well before the autism-vaccine study was retracted last month. But the validity of that study had been under attack for years.

About 12 percent of parents in the Michigan study said they had refused to allow their children to receive a vaccine that a doctor recommended. The chart below shows four inoculations that those parents cited.

The vaccine for human papillomavirus protects against cervical cancer, but is fairly new. Some parents shy away from it because of their concerns about side effects. The vaccine for meningococcal diseases is also relatively new, and some people worry it causes Guillain-Barré syndrome, an immune system disorder. That link is being investigated, but federal health officials still recommend the vaccine.

The shot for measles, mumps and rubella was the subject of the now-discredited 1998 research. The parents who refused to allow their children to get the vaccine said they had heard or read negative information about it. The chickenpox vaccine also made the list, but no evidence ties it to autism, doctors have said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about common vaccine-safety concerns, including those involving autism.

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