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March 23, 1990

'Pertussis Vaccine Encephalopathy': It Is Time to Recognize It as the Myth That It Is

JAMA. 1990;263(12):1679-1680. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440120101046

The article by Griffin et al1 in this issue of The Journal is the third recent controlled study that has examined the risk of seizures and other acute neurological illnesses after immunization with pertussis-containing vaccines.1-3 In these three studies, which involved about 230 000 children and 713 000 immunizations, no evidence of a causal relationship between pertussis vaccine and permanent neurological illness was found. In the two previously published studies, an association between immunization and first febrile seizures was noted; Walker and associates2 found that the incidence of febrile seizures in the immediate postimmunization period was 3.7 times that in the period 30 days or more after immunization. Shields and colleagues3 estimated about one febrile seizure for every 1000 children 10 months of age or older who were immunized.

In addition to the three recent studies mentioned above, which fail to show a causal relationship between