Vaccines Don't Appear to Increase Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk

TUESDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- Routine adult vaccinations for flu and other conditions don't appear to increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a new study has found.

The finding challenges a common belief that such vaccinations can cause the immune system to attack the body and trigger long-term inflammatory conditions such as RA.

Swedish researchers examined the vaccination histories of 2,000 people, aged 18 to 70, with RA and more than 2,000 people without the condition. Vaccinations included in the study were for flu, tetanus, diphtheria, tick-borne encephalitis, polio, pneumococcus and hepatitis A, B and C.

The results showed that the type or number of vaccinations a person receives has no impact on the likelihood of developing RA.

The study was released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

"This result does not rule out the possibility that vaccinations given earlier in life, or vaccinations that are rare, may trigger the development of RA," Camilla Bengtsson of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues wrote. But, they added, "it is unlikely that vaccinations in general should be considered a major risk factor for RA."

They also noted that the findings have "practical implications for what advice on vaccinations should be given to the general population, and, in particular, to groups at risk of RA, such as children of parents with RA."

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, news release, July 5, 2010