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Survey Could Spot Parents Who Shun Child Vaccinations

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Parent responses on a survey about childhood vaccinations can help predict whether their youngsters will receive recommended immunizations, a new study finds.

Researchers gave the Parent Attitudes About Childhood Vaccines survey to parents who had 2-month-old children and belonged to an integrated health care delivery system in Seattle. The survey was scored on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 indicating extreme reluctance about childhood vaccines.

The children's immunization status was measured as the percentage of days from birth to 19 months of age that they should have been immunized but were not.

In the study, published online Sept. 23 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, higher survey scores were associated with under-immunization. Compared to parents who scored less than 50 on the survey, those who scored 50 to 69 had children who were under-immunized for 8.3 percent more days, and those who scored 70 to 100 had children who were under-immunized for 46.8 percent more days.

"Our results suggest that [survey] scores validly predict which parents will have under-immunized children," said Dr. Douglas Opel, of the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Research Institute, and colleagues in a journal news release.

It is always better to vaccinate a child and prevent a disease than to treat it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thanks to vaccines, many once-common infectious diseases, including polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and mumps, have been controlled. Not vaccinating children puts them and the people around them at risk of catching infectious diseases, according to the CDC.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about childhood vaccines.

SOURCE: JAMA Pediatrics, news release, Sept. 23, 2013

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