Could vaccinations put too much strain on or weaken children's immune systems and are therefore harmful? Roma Schmitz and her colleagues from the Robert Koch Institute investigate exactly this research question in the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2011; 108(7): 105-11). Their data are based on the results of the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS).
In their study, the authors compare the occurrence of infections and allergies in vaccinated and unvaccinated children and adolescents. These include bronchitis, eczema, colds and gastrointestinal infections.
The evaluation showed that unvaccinated children and adolescents differ from their vaccinated peers merely in terms of the frequency of vaccine preventable diseases. These include pertussis, mumps or measles. As expected, the risk of contracting these diseases is substantially lower in vaccinated children and adolescents.