New research suggests that the swine flu jab given to hundreds of thousands of children in the UK can increase the risk of developing the sleep disorder narcolepsy.
Health officials have expressed concern over the figures that show for every 55,000 doses of the swine flu jab Pandemrix administered, one child developed the condition that causes excessive daytime sleepiness (narcolepsy).
Researchers from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and Papworth and Addenbrooke’s hospitals investigation found that of 75 children studied with narcolepsy, 11 children received the vaccine before their symptoms started. Their findings have shown that the jab increased the risk of developing narcolepsy by a factor of 14. This equates to one in 52,000 to 57,500 doses directly accounting for a child developing the condition.
Professor Liz Miller, a consultant epidemiologist with the agency and lead author of the report, said: “These findings suggest there is an increased risk in children of narcolepsy after Pandemrix vaccination and this is consistent with findings from studies in other European countries. Long-term follow up of people exposed to Pandemrix is needed before we can fully establish the extent of the association.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “We keep all emerging evidence under review and that’s why use of Pandemrix in those less than 20 years old was stopped in the UK in 2011.”
Pandemrix is an influenza vaccine that is often used in the influenza pandemics, such as the H1N1 2009 swine flu pandemic. The Pandemrix vaccine was developed by GlaxoSmithKline and patented in September 2006.