Colds and flu

07 May 2013

Flu vaccine safe for kids with colitis

The flu vaccine may even reduce their bowel symptoms, researchers say.


Yearly flu vaccinations are safe for children with inflammatory bowel disease, but too few of these youngsters get a flu shot because their parents worry about possible side effects, researchers report.

Not only does vaccination help protect against the flu, it may even reduce inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) symptoms, according to the study, which was published in the journal Paediatrics.

Children with inflammatory bowel disease, which includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, often experience chronic abdominal pain, diarrhoea, joint pain and other symptoms.

How the study was done

The researchers looked at all children under age 19 diagnosed with IBD in Ontario, Canada, between 1999 and 2009. They found that about 25% of the IBD patients received a flu shot from a doctor or nurse practitioner and that these youngsters had no increase in IBD-related health issues after being vaccinated.

The patients actually had fewer IBD-related doctor visits after receiving a flu shot.

"There is no risk of IBD flare following influenza immunisation," study lead author Dr Eric Benchimol said in a Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario news release. "In the years they were immunised, children with IBD had lower rates of IBD-related outpatient physician visits compared to years they were not immunized. This may indicate that receiving the influenza vaccine protects against having a flare of IBD, or at least prevents visits to doctors for IBD-related symptoms."

The study findings should reassure parents of children with IBD and improve flu vaccination rates among these children, the researchers said.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about inflammatory bowel disease and children.

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Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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