Vaccines and Childhood Stroke


Recent concerns about childhood vaccination have triggered fear among some parents, resulting in uncertainty and confusion about the health effects of vaccines and the additives that are used in the vaccine preparations. Parents make health care decisions for their children based on the most earnest considerations for their children's health, always pursuing the best long-term outcome for their youngsters.

The Controversy

Vaccines have been controversial lately because of apprehension about the possibility of harmful neurological consequences, particularly autism. A diagnosis of autism is disturbing and upsetting for parents. And the fact that autism detection is increasing in recent years raises questions about whether there may be an environmental or toxic cause for the rise in autism- questions that have yet to be answered.

The coinciding timing of vaccine administration and the manifestations of early symptoms of autism can be a source of distress for parents who wonder- ‘how did my child get this?’

Rigorous standards of scientific research heavily support childhood vaccination for the prevention of infectious diseases. Furthermore, numerous scientific studies now have failed to show any evidence that vaccines are the cause of autism, and the CDC has concluded that there is no causative link.

While autism is certainly a distressing handicap, the cause is not yet established.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccines that are currently recommended for children protect against measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, Haemophilus influenza b, hepatitis, tetanus, pertussis, polio, pneumococcus, rotavirus, and varicella zoster.

These illnesses are all different types of infections, meaning that they are caused by micro-organisms (tiny organisms) such as bacteria or viruses that invade the body. When any of these infectious organisms infiltrate the body, they produce a number of effects, including fevers and inflammation, as well as a targeted attack on various organs in the body.

Childhood Stroke and Infections

Childhood stroke can be devastating, producing physical handicaps, vision impairment, speech deficits and learning disabilities. Strokes are not common among children, and when they do occur, they are generally associated with risk factors such as genetic conditions, serious heart disease, blood clotting disorders, blood vessel disease, cancer or powerful medications that increase the risk of stroke.

Infections have been found to be one of the risks of childhood stroke. A study published in the September 2014 issue of the journal, Neurology, reported a strong effect of infections on stroke risk in children, especially within the first 3 days of the establishment of a significant infection.

Another research study published in the journal, Infectious Disorders-Drug Targets, specifically evaluated children who were diagnosed with strokes after varicella zoster virus infection (chicken pox) and found that most of these children showed evidence of injuries to the arteries of the brain caused by the virus. The authors of the article also explained that several other viruses have been noted to induce the same type of injury to arteries in the brain, which leads to a stroke.

Stroke Prevention

The best prevention against stroke is control and management of risk factors. Any preventable stroke risk factor, such as an avoidable infection, should be dealt with preemptively, if possible. Vaccination is an important step towards reducing the risk of serious infections, especially since effective treatments do not exist for these infections if they occur. The infections that are deflected by vaccination are aggressive infections that do not typically have effective treatment during infection or after the fact. The potential of reducing the risk of childhood stroke is only one of the many reasons routine childhood vaccination is important to your child’s health.

Your child's pediatrician is the best source of accurate, up to date information and recommendations about your child's health. Make sure that, as you carefully contemplate decisions about your cherished children’s health, you seek out health information that is reliable and comes from a trustworthy source.


Timing and number of minor infections as risk factors for childhood arterial ischemic stroke, Hills NK, Sidney S, Fullerton HJ, Neurology, September 2014

Rashes, sniffles, and stroke: a role for infection in ischemic stroke of childhood, Amlie-Lefond C, Fullerton HJ, Infectious Disorders-Drug Targets, April 2010

Infection, vaccination, and childhood arterial ischemic stroke: Results of the VIPS study, Fullerton HJ, Hills NK, Elkind MS, Dowling MM, Wintermark M, Glaser CA, Tan M, Rivkin MJ, Titomanlio L, Barkovich AJ2, deVeber GA2; VIPS Investigators, Neurology, October 2015

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