Hepatitis B Vaccine and Concerns about Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Numerous studies have evaluated a possible relationship between hepatitis B vaccination and multiple sclerosis (MS). The weight of the available scientific evidence does not support the suggestion that hepatitis B vaccine causes or worsens MS.
What is multiple sclerosis (MS)?
MS is a progressive and usually fluctuating disease with exacerbations (patients feeling worse) and remissions (patients feeling better) over many decades. In many patients with MS, permanent disability and even death can occur. The cause of MS is unknown. The most widely held hypothesis is that MS occurs in patients with a genetic susceptibility and is "triggered" by certain environmental factors.
MS is 3 times more common in women than men, with diagnosis usually made as young adults; however, it has been estimated that between 2 to 5% of cases begin before age 16. Since MS is not widely recognized as a childhood disorder, diagnosis is often missed or delayed. In addition, many of its symptoms are similar to those of other pediatric neurological conditions, leukodystrophies and metabolic disorders. Diagnosis in childhood is difficult due to the lack of universally accepted diagnostic criteria.
Does hepatitis B vaccination cause MS?
What has been done to examine the suggested association between hepatitis B vaccine and neurological disorders?
In 2002, the IOM reviewed the evidence of a possible causal association between hepatitis B vaccine and demyelinating neurological disorders, including MS in adults. The committee found that the epidemiological evidence does not support a causal relationship between hepatitis B vaccine in adults and multiple sclerosis.
Should I delay hepatitis B vaccination until more is known?
What research has been conducted to look at the possible link between vaccines and autoimmune diseases?
As part of ongoing vaccine safety surveillance, CDC will continue to conduct research to examine the effects vaccines may have on the immune system.
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Page last reviewed: October 14, 2008
Page last updated: October 14, 2008
Content source: Immunization Safety Office