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Narcolepsy after swine flu jab studied
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Narcolepsy rates rose in Finland after swine flu vaccinations
The swine flu vaccine may have been responsible for a sudden increase in cases of the sleep disorder narcolepsy, The Independent has today reported.
The rare disorder causes people to feel drowsy or to spontaneously fall asleep and sometimes experience loss of muscle power.
The paper’s story was based on two studies from Finland, where there have been high-profile reports that the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine may have triggered new cases of child narcolepsy after its use in 2009.
The authors of the studies found that, in Finland, the incidence of narcolepsy among children under the age of 17 years was about 17 times higher in 2010 than in the previous eight years.
A further study found that the incidence of narcolepsy among children aged 4-19 who had been vaccinated was nearly 13 times higher than incidence among unvaccinated children.
These findings, which are based on comprehensive data taken from the entire Finnish population, raise some concerns and the issue is reportedly being investigated by UK officials.
However, at present there is no proven association between the swine flu vaccine and narcolepsy in children.
As the researchers point out, awareness of narcolepsy has increased in Finland in recent years and this may explain the rise in cases rather than any effect from the vaccine.
It is worth noting that among vaccinated children the “vaccine attributable risk” of narcolepsy was still extremely small – a one in 16,000 chance. The “attributable risk” is the difference in the incidence of narcolepsy between children who had been vaccinated and those who had not.