Immunization has always been a hot topic in debates on child’s health. Most parents are all for it, for the good of their child and the community. Others are wary of the side effects it could bring, even if these alleged side effects have been disproved by many studies over the years.
Most health professionals agree that immunizations do more good than bad. Vaccines give kids an arsenal of antibodies that help them fight infection and illness—prevention rather than cure, as the old saying goes.
Now, an additional benefit to having kids vaccinated is to prevent child strokes.
Researchers from the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) have proven that routine immunizations in kids could help reduce the risk of childhood stroke. They compared 355 children who had ischemic strokes with 354 children who had not, and found that children with an infection had six times the risk of experiencing a stroke. The study, published in the journal Neurology, also found that kids who had incomplete vaccinations are seven times more likely to have a stroke compared to children whose immunizations are complete and up-to-date.
Child stroke is a rare condition that affects three to 13 children in 100,000 kids in the U.S. It’s a condition most common in kids two years old and younger. The kids mostly inherit the condition from their parents or other family members. There is currently no test that can determine a child’s risk of suffering a stroke.
Lead study author Dr. Heather J. Fullerton of the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital explains the link: When one has an infection, the body's immune system defends itself from viruses and bacteria. This defense is manifested as fever and aches, and may cause the blood to clot more easily. It's possible that the vaccines could reduce a child’s susceptibility to infection, hence preventing the damage these infections can do to their blood vessels.
Previous studies have shown that colds and other minor infections can be possible short-term risk factors for child stroke. The recent study also disproved claims that cold medications or vaccines could trigger the stroke. Dr. Fullerton admits that more studies need to be done. "If our results hold up in further studies, controlling infections like colds and flu through handwashing and vaccines may be a strategy for preventing stroke in children," she notes.
While vaccination is considered a personal choice rather than a mandatory task, doctors urge parents to avail of vaccines for their child. Complications and side effects from vaccines are rare. In an an article on smartparenting.com.ph, Dr. Daisy Espejo-Torina, a pediatrician who has been in practice for 10 years, says, “I have seen kids die from measles, meningitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, tetanus. If there are vaccines available to keep my child from getting those diseases, why shouldn't I avail of them?”
If you have concerns about having your kids immunized, do your research and talk to your pediatrician--he or she is the best person who can give you the facts and ease your worries.
Sources: October 1, 2015. “Could vaccines protect kids from stroke, too?” (reuter.com) October 1, 2015. “Colds, flu linked to increased stroke risk for children” (medicaldaily.net)