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Swine flu jab 'likely' linked to narcolepsy

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Children and young people in Finland who have received a swine flu vaccine may be at an increased risk of developing narcolepsy, say experts.

Health officials in the country said children aged between four and 19 years who were given the vaccinations had a nine-fold increased risk of developing the rare sleep disorder, compared with those of the same age group who received no vaccine.

The researchers said “the most likely explanation is that the increase in narcolepsy is by joint effect of the vaccine and some other factor”.

Last year in Finland 60 children and adolescents aged 4-19 years were diagnosed with narcolepsy.

Of these, almost 90% had received the Pandemrix® vaccine, while the vaccine coverage in the entire age group was 70 percent.

No cases were observed among those under 4 years of age.

And the researchers saw no increase in cases of narcolepsy, or signs of the vaccination impacting the risk of developing narcolepsy, among those above 19 years of age.

The National Narcolepsy Task Force says the preliminary study using the Pandemrix treatment for the flu strain “contributed to the observed increase in incidence of narcolepsy”.

In August, the European Medicines Agency announced an investigation into whether the swine flu vaccine and the disorder were linked.

The results of the new study were published by Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare.

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