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Research has found no link between childhood vaccines and asthma.
Because the rates of asthma — a chronic disease characterized by repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, tightness of the chest, and coughing — have risen along with the number of recommended vaccines, experts have looked for a connection.
The concern is that, by preventing infections in childhood, vaccines might cause an imbalance in the immune response later in life that could lead to allergies and, eventually, asthma. (This is called the hygiene hypothesis). And some experts have theorized that the immune response triggered by vaccines might lead directly to asthma and allergies by over-sensitizing the immune system.
But scientists who have studied this issue say there's no evidence of a link between vaccines and asthma or allergies. And recent studies have found no difference in the rate of asthma and allergies between those who are vaccinated and those who are not.
For example, one large study involving 167,240 children in Washington, Oregon, and California found no increased risk of developing childhood asthma associated with the DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) vaccine, the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine, or the oral polio vaccine.
In another large study, researchers examined whether immunizations received before 18 months of age were related to asthma in later childhood and found no association.