Background: It has been suggested that childhood vaccinations may be associated with the onset of asthma. We investigated the association between asthma, atopy and vaccination history in a cohort of young adults living in Melbourne, Australia.
Methods: Subjects were aged between 22 and 44 years and were surveyed by an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Questions were asked about vaccinations to measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), triple antigen (DTP), hepatitis B and Sabin polio vaccine (OPV). Atopy was assessed by skin prick testing to common aeroallergens.
Results: There was no significant association observed for subjects diagnosed with asthma who had received measles or MMR vaccinations compared with those who did not receive measles or MMR vaccinations (RR 1.33, 95% CI 0.98-1.80). Non-significant associations were also observed for OPV and hepatitis B vaccinations (RR 3.27, 95% CI 0.50-21.3 and RR 1.08, 95% CI 0.83-1.41, respectively). However, subjects reporting full immunisation were found to be at higher risk to asthma (RR 1.52, 95% CI 1.09-2.11) but not atopy.
Conclusions: Our results show relatively weak support for the hypothesis that childhood vaccinations may lead to increased risk of asthma, but caution is advised due to possible recall bias.