Millions of children worldwide were vaccinated during the 2010–2011 pandemic, which killed at least 11,000 people, according to a new study.
The researchers, led by a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Arizona’s School of Medicine, say they believe the vaccination program may have triggered a brain injury that could have affected the development of their children.
“We believe that the children that were vaccinated may have had more severe and more lasting damage to the brain, especially in those who had severe head injuries,” said lead author Dr. Matthew S. Fink.
“But the researchers don’t have a strong enough evidence to say that the vaccine caused that.”
The study was published online March 15 in the journal Pediatrics.
The study used the results of a study of children ages 5 and up to assess whether children with head injuries were more likely to have brain injuries than children who were not affected by vaccine-induced injuries.
The authors used data from more than 1.3 million children in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Researchers also looked at brain tissue samples from children who had experienced head injuries that were later diagnosed as traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs.
They found that the brains of children who suffered TBI symptoms were more than three times more likely than those who didn’t to have a more severe neurological condition.
“Our results suggest that the vaccination could have caused a neurological injury in the brains, possibly in addition to the injury that was caused by the vaccine itself,” said Fink, who has a master’s degree in child and adolescent psychiatry from the University at Buffalo and is currently working on a doctoral dissertation in neurosurgery.
The findings also suggest that children who experienced brain injuries from vaccines were at increased risk for developing brain injury, as were those who received vaccines during the pandemic.
“What we’re suggesting is that this vaccine may have exacerbated the damage to these children’s brain that we see,” Fink said.
The results of the study could have implications for vaccination programs that target the brains and brains of young children.
Finkle and his colleagues used data collected from more in-depth analysis of brain tissue, which is typically used to study children with brain injuries.
Because they used brain samples collected during a period of time when most people were not vaccinated, the researchers didn’t have data on how the vaccine affected the brain during the period that most children received it.
“This is one of the first studies to examine the long-term effects of vaccination on the brain of young people, especially those who are in very vulnerable health,” Finkle said.
He said he hopes the study will lead to better vaccine safety protocols and the development a “brain safety” standard.
“It’s a very promising finding, especially for children who are very vulnerable,” Fisk said.
“Because this is a small sample size, we don’t know how long these vaccine-associated brain injuries last.”
The researchers also used a different technique to analyze brain tissue than the ones used in the previous studies, in which they compared the brains collected before and after the vaccination.
They compared the data with information from CT scans, which measure blood flow in the brain.
A CT scan typically shows changes in blood flow that indicate whether the brain is active or is not.
A blood sample collected before the vaccine was administered had a lower signal for active blood flow, suggesting that the brain had not yet recovered from the injury.
A scan of a child’s brain after the vaccine administration showed that the blood flow signal was significantly higher, suggesting a recovery of the brain’s blood flow.
“There is this difference in blood-flow during injury and recovery of brain function,” Finks said.
In the current study, the team also looked for differences in the way that the head was affected during brain injury.
The brain of a 12-year-old child was exposed to a vaccine, but not the brain tissue of a 6-year, 9-year or 12-month-old.
“The results of this study showed that in children with mild to moderate head injuries, the brain was less active,” Finker said.
This could mean that the vaccines may have delayed brain injury symptoms or caused damage to other brain tissue that was not detected at the time.
Fisk and his team also analyzed the effects of other vaccines.
The research team looked at the vaccine-related brain damage in more than 600 children from the U.K., Ireland, Norway and Sweden, and found that there was no clear correlation between the vaccines and brain damage.
“These results suggest there is no association between vaccine-immunity severity and brain injury,” the researchers wrote.
They also found that vaccine-activated immune system cells in the cerebellum were not linked to brain damage or other brain disorders.
“If there is a link, it is that these cells are more vulnerable to TBI,” Fick said.
Although the current research focused on children ages 3 to 6, the findings also could be applicable to children younger than that.