updated 3/31/2004 5:38:35 PM ET 2004-03-31T22:38:35

Researchers have determined there is no link between childhood vaccines and the development of diabetes, the latest study to find no such connection.

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Using birth and medical registries, Danish researchers checked vaccination records and cases of Type 1 diabetes for the more than 739,000 children born between 1990 and 2000 in Denmark.

They found no more cases of Type 1 diabetes among vaccinated children compared with unvaccinated children. There also was no increase seen in children with a sibling with diabetes, who are at higher risk of developing the disorder, the researchers reported in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.

'The last (study) necessary?'
Type 1 diabetes is increasing in developed countries, where childhood immunization is widespread. That is one of the main reasons some have proposed a link.

“This study will, one hopes, be the last one that is necessary to disprove an association between immunizations and diabetes,” Dr. Lynne L. Levitsky of Harvard Medical School said in a commentary in the journal.

Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, mostly afflicts young children. Because their pancreas produces little or no insulin, they need to take insulin daily. There is no known cause, but genetic and environmental factors may play a role.

The Danish children were vaccinated against eight diseases on a schedule similar to that in the United States, said Dr. Mads Melbye, one of the researchers at the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen. He said Denmark’s vaccination records are particularly good because doctors aren’t paid for giving the shots until they report them to a registry.

“This really reemphasizes that vaccines are generally very safe and they are extremely important,” Melbye said.

U.S. recommendations now call for children to be protected against 11 diseases.

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