Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

News Roundup [abridged Versions Appear In The Paper Journal]

Parents should remove risk factors to reduce asthma in children

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 17 March 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:637

Rapid Response:

Does that include DPT and other vaccines?


It never fails to surprise me that 'causes of asthma' are paraded so
frequently in the media, with expert opinion galore, yet one of the major
contributors to the presence of this serious condition in children (our
future adults), vaccinations, is rarely if ever cited (1). In such a
'medically aware' world how could this be?

David Spurgeon maintains this practice; he suggests that "parents
should remove risk factors to reduce asthma" specifying some of these
while totally ignoring one of the most likely causes, VACCINATION. Would
he support parents who refuse vaccinations to remove this obvious risk

He reminds us that enormous savings can be made by removing known
risk factors for this disorder which affects some 4 million American
children, leads to more than 3 million clinic visits, 550,000 emergency
department visits and 150,000 hospital admissions, 150 deaths in under 15s
in the USA annually. Its presence he says increased by 75%, primarily in
under fives, between 1980 and 1993. The annual cost of asthma to the USA
is estimated at more than £270 million for alleged exposure types the
'experts hypothesise about'.

Yet studies have suggested DPT and other vaccinations may be
responsible for as many as 11 times (2) and more (3) vaccinated children
developing asthma than unvaccinated - an enormous medical carnage by any
standard. A more conservative estimate was obtained by Hurwitz and
Morgenstern (4) that twice as many vaccinated (DPT and tetanus
vaccinations) kids develop asthma than unvaccinated.

What does it take for 'experts' to report the obvious before
'hypothesising' about relatively unknown causes? Kemp T et al (3) exclude
ethnicity, socioeconomic status, parental atopy and parental smoking as
con-founders to arrive at their findings.

The statement that 'pets cause asthma' appears to ignore the
probability that allergies to pets are induced by vaccinations that
simultaneously induced asthma; thereafter a sensitivity to pets (2)(3)(4).

I find the general absence of this important detail alarming; and can
think of no other reasons for widespread exclusion of such vital
information than ignorance, unscientific practices or commercialism with
an extremely anti-social committment.


John H.


1. Blomfield R, "Childhood vaccination should have been included in
asthma study"; BMJ 1998 Jul 18;317(7152):205

2. Yoneyama H et al, "The effect of DPT and BCG vaccinations on atopic
disorders"; Arerugi 2000 Jul; 49(7): 585-92

3. Kemp T et al, "Is infant immunisation a risk factor for childhood
asthma or allergy?"; Epidemiology 1997 Nov; 8(6): 678-80

4. Hurwitx EL and Morgenstern H, "Effects of DPT or tetanus vaccination on
allergies and allergy-related respiratory symptoms among children and
adolescents in the US"; J manipulative Physiol Ther 2000 Feb; 23(2): 81-90

Competing interests: No competing interests

20 March 2001
John P Heptonstall
Director of The Morley Acupuncture Clinic and Complementary Therapy Centre
West Yorkshire