A committee of experts convened by the Institute of Medicine, a non-profit group outside the framework of the U.S. federal government to provide independent guidance and analysis to improve health, said few health problems are caused by or clearly associated with vaccines.
The committee said its review found convincing evidence of 14 health outcomes -- including seizures, inflammation of the brain and fainting -- that can, in rare instances, be caused by certain vaccines.
The group found indicative, though less clear, data on associations between specific vaccines and four other effects, such as allergic reactions and temporary joint pain.
In addition, the review found convincing evidence that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine can lead to fever-triggered seizures in some recipients, although these effects are almost always without long-term consequences, the report said. The MMR vaccine appears to trigger short-term joint pain in some women and children, the experts said.
"The findings should be reassuring to parents that few health problems are clearly connected to immunizations, and these effects occur relatively rarely," Ellen Wright Clayton, professor of pediatrics and law, at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, said in a statement. "And repeated study has made clear that some health problems are not caused by vaccines."
The Institute of Medicine is part of the National Academy of Sciences.