September 29, 2008
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Although most hepatitis B vaccines do not seem to increase the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) in children, use of one particular brand — Engerix B (GlaxoSmithKline) — may, according to findings from a study conducted in France.
The study involved 349 children with MS and 2,941 children without MS. According to the researchers, a total of 24.4 percent of the children with MS were vaccinated for hepatitis B in the 3 years before the study, compared to 27.3 percent of the children without MS.
Although the study found that hepatitis B vaccination does not generally increase the risk of MS, the children with MS were 1.74 times more likely to have received a certain type of hepatitis B vaccine called Engerix B.
Those children with MS developed symptoms 3 or more years after receiving the vaccine.
The risk was only found for this specific type of hepatitis B vaccine and not found for all vaccines against hepatitis B, Dr. Yann Mikaeloff, from Assistance Publique-Hopitaux de Paris, and colleagues report.
They emphasize that this association cannot be taken as confirmation that the vaccine caused MS. Further studies are needed to determine whether this is a causal relationship.
The study findings are reported in the October 8th online issue of the medical journal Neurology.
SOURCE: Neurology 2008.