Combination MMRV Vaccine Doubles Risk of Febrile SeizureJune 10, 2014 — Canadian researchers have found that children who receive one combination vaccine for measles, mumps, rubella, and Chicken Pox (MMRV vaccine) are twice as likely to have a fever-induced febrile seizure than children who get two separate vaccinations to protect against the same diseases.

Researchers in Alberta evaluated data on 227,774 children. Kids who got the combination MMRV shot between age 12 months – 23 months were twice as likely to have a seizure than children who had a MMR vaccine in one arm and a Chicken Pox (varicella) vaccine in the other arm.

Even so, the increased risk was small. Children who received the combination MMRV vaccine had seizures at a rate of 7-9 per 10,000. Children who received a separate MMR and Chicken Pox had seizures at a rate of 3-4 per 10,000. The study suggests that 3-4 more children per 10,000 who get the combined shot will have a febrile seizure. This is much lower than the risk of febrile seizure from measles, which causes 60-70 seizures per 10,000 children.

Researchers recommend that parents should be informed about the increased risk. The seizures typically occur 7-10 days after the vaccine is given. Parents who are not aware of the side effect may fail to recognize symptoms, delay seeking treatment, and worsen their child’s long-term prognosis.

Results of the study were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. According to the author of the paper, Shannon E. MacDonald, and colleagues:

“Combining MMR and varicella into a single vaccine decreases pain for children and distress for parents, thus addressing common barriers to vaccine uptake, and may improve vaccination coverage levels and decrease immunization delivery costs. Febrile seizures are typically self-limiting and rarely have long-term effects, but they can be extremely distressing for parents, may precipitate acute care visits and may undermine confidence in immunization programs.”

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