The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine does not raise the risk of developing autoimmune disorders, a major new study has found.
Kaiser Permanente Department researchers, reporting in the Journal of Internal Medicine, said a two-year study involving nearly 190,000 girls and women has found the Gardasil vaccine does not trigger lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and multiple sclerosis or other similar diseases.
"This kind of safety information may help parents with vaccination decisions," said lead researcher Dr. Chun Chao in a statement. “"These findings offer some assurance that among a large and generalizable female population, no safety signal for autoimmune conditions was found following HPV4 vaccination in routine clinical use."
Gardasil, made by Merck & Co., helps protect against 4 types of HPV, including those responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in girls and women as well as 90 percent of genital warts in both sexes.
Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Gardasil for use nearly six years ago, some have raised concerns about possible links to autoimmune disorders.
But the Kaiser Permanente researchers said that, compared to females who did not get the shot, vaccinated females did not have higher rates of 16 autoimmune conditions, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Graves' disease, multiple sclerosis, optic neuritis and others.
“Although recommended for both girls and boys, some parents have withheld the vaccine from their children out of fear that it will cause other diseases," the researchers wrote. “This study shows that those fears of the vaccine causing other diseases are unfounded.”