To determine whether any association exists between exposure to 2009 pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) influenza vaccination during pregnancy and negative health outcomes in early childhood.
Retrospective cohort study.
Population based birth registry linked with health administrative databases in the province of Ontario, Canada.
All live births from November 2009 through October 2010 (n=104 249) were included, and children were followed until 5 years of age to ascertain study outcomes.
Rates of immune related (infectious diseases, asthma), non-immune related (neoplasms, sensory disorders), and non-specific morbidity outcomes (urgent or inpatient health services use, pediatric complex chronic conditions) were evaluated from birth to 5 years of age; under-5 childhood mortality was also assessed. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust hazard ratios, incidence rate ratios, and risk ratios for potential confounding.
Of 104 249 live births, 31 295 (30%) were exposed to pH1N1 influenza vaccination in utero. No significant associations were found with upper or lower respiratory infections, otitis media, any infectious diseases, neoplasms, sensory disorders, urgent and inpatient health services use, pediatric complex chronic conditions, or mortality. A weak association was observed between prenatal pH1N1 vaccination and increased risk of asthma (adjusted hazard ratio 1.05, 95% confidence interval 1.02 to 1.09) and decreased rates of gastrointestinal infections (adjusted incidence rate ratio 0.94, 0.91 to 0.98). These results were unchanged in sensitivity analyses accounting for any potential differential healthcare seeking behavior or access between exposure groups.
No associations were observed between exposure to pH1N1 influenza vaccine during pregnancy and most five year pediatric health outcomes. Residual confounding may explain the small associations observed with increased asthma and reduced gastrointestinal infections. These outcomes should be assessed in future studies.
Scientist, CHEO Research Institute