Washington: Chemical compounds widely used in fast-food packaging, waterproof clothing and non-stick frying pans were linked in a study out Tuesday to lower immune response by young children to routine tetanus and diphtheria immunisation shots.
The study, in yesterday`s Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), is the first to show how perfluorinated compounds can negatively affect the response to vaccines.
PFCs can be transferred to children before birth via the mother, or after birth from exposure in the environment, according to the report.
"The negative impact on childhood vaccinations from PFCs should be viewed as a potential threat to public health," said study lead author Philippe Grandjean with the Harvard School of Public Health.
Grandjean appeared alarmed because routine childhood immunisations "are a mainstay of modern disease prevention." Researchers "were surprised by the steep negative
associations, which suggest that PFCs may be more toxic to the immune system than current dioxin exposures," said Grandjean.
PFCs have thousands of industrial and manufacturing uses, and most Americans have traces of the chemical compounds in their bodies.
Earlier studies have shown that PFC concentrations in mice similar to those found in people suppressed immune response. The negative effects of the compounds on people however have not been well studied.
The experts studied data on infants at the National Hospital in Torshavn, on Denmark`s Faroe Islands, during 1999-2001. Of those studied, 587 children participated in
follow-up examinations at ages five and seven, when they were tested for immune response to tetanus and diphtheria vaccinations.
The level of PFCs were measured in maternal pregnancy blood serum, and in the blood serum of children at age five, to determine prenatal and postnatal exposure.
The results show a link between exposure to PFCs and a lower antibody response to tetanus and diphtheria vaccines than normal.