PFCs weaken immune response to vaccine shots in childhood

January 25th, 2012 - 12:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 25 (IANS) Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), widely used in non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing and fast-food packaging, seem to lower immune response to vaccination in children.

A new Harvard study is the first to document how PFCs, which can be transferred to children through the mother, prenatally and postnatally, from exposure in the environment, can adversely affect vaccine response.

“Routine childhood immunisations are a mainstay of modern disease prevention. The negative impact on childhood vaccinations from PFCs should be viewed as a potential threat to public health,” said Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard School of Public Health, who led the study.

Prior studies have shown that PFC concentrations in mice similar to those found in people suppressed immune response, but the adverse effects on people had been poorly documented, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports.

The researchers analysed data on children recruited at birth at National Hospital in Torshavn, Faroe Islands, during 1999-2001. A total of 587 participated in follow-up examinations, according to a Harvard statement.

Children were tested for immune response to tetanus and diphtheria vaccinations at ages five and seven years. PFCs were measured in maternal pregnancy serum and in the serum of children at age five to determine prenatal and postnatal exposure.

The results showed that PFC exposure was linked with lower antibody responses to immunizations and an increased risk of antibody levels in children lower than those needed to provide long-term protection.

(Antibody concentrations in serum are a good indicator of overall immune functions in children.) A two-fold greater concentration of three major PFCs was associated with a 49 percent lower level of serum antibodies in children at age zeven years.

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