According to a study published online in Academic Pediatrics, while there is a possible association between vaccine-associated aluminum and persistent asthma among children with and without eczema, findings did not prove there was a definitive correlation.

Researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study in the Vaccine Safety Datalink to examine the correlation between cumulative aluminum exposure from vaccines before age 24 months and persistent asthma at age 25 to 59 months.

The cohort included 326,991 children, among whom 14,337 (4.4%) had eczema. For children with and without eczema, the average (standard deviation [SD]) vaccine-associated aluminum exposure was 4.07 mg (SD 0.60) and 3.98 mg (SD 0.72), respectively.

Among children with and without eczema, 6.0% and 2.1%, respectively, developed persistent asthma. Among children with eczema, vaccine-associated aluminum was positively associated with persistent asthma (aHR 1.26 per 1-mg increase in aluminum; 95% CI 1.07, 1.49); a positive association was also detected among children without eczema (aHR 1.19; 95% CI 1.14, 1.25).

The researchers concluded that in this large observational study, a positive correlation was discovered between vaccine-related aluminum exposure and persistent asthma and while recognizing the small effect sizes identified and the potential for residual confounding, further examination of this hypothesis appears necessary.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Infectious Diseases Vice Chairperson James D. Campbell, MD, MS, FAAP, stated, “The overwhelming benefit of the vaccines and the long-term safety we’ve seen from them should reassure parents they should still completely vaccinate their children.”

In a statement, experts from the AAP indicated that while the study found a possible link between aluminum in vaccines and persistent asthma in children, the AAP, CDC, and the study’s authors acknowledged the study has important limitations and the findings do not prove causation. They also note that the study did not demonstrate a need for pediatricians to deviate from the recommended vaccine schedule, according to the AAP and others.

The AAP also included a statement from the CDC indicating that the agency “agrees with the authors that this single observational study has important limitations and does not show that aluminum in some childhood vaccines can cause development of persistent asthma” and it is not changing its routine childhood vaccination recommendations. “The CDC continues to strongly recommend that children stay up-to-date on routine vaccines to help children return safely to school and early care and education programs this fall,” the agency stated, adding that it is exploring additional research possibilities.”

The AAP also encourages the additional research.

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