HEALTH

Pairing influenza and pneumococcal vaccination shots for children raises risk of fever

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Giving young children the influenza and pneumococcal vaccines together appears to increase their risk of fever, according to a study led by researchers from Columbia University Medical Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Monday afternoon. However, the fever was brief, and medical care was sought for few children, supporting the routine immunization schedule for these vaccines, including the recommendation to administer them simultaneously. 

The study, which looked at children 6–23 months old, was published online on Jan. 6, 2014, in Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics.

“While our data suggest that giving children the influenza and pneumococcal vaccines together at the same visit increases the risk of fever, compared with getting only one of the vaccines at the visit, these findings should be viewed in context of the benefit of vaccines to prevent serious illness in young children, as well as the recognized need to increase vaccination rates overall,” stated study first author Melissa Stockwell, Florence Irving Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Population and Family Health at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, with a joint appointment at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. “Parents should be made aware that their child might develop a fever following simultaneous influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations — but that the benefits of these vaccines outweigh the risk of fever and, in most cases, the fever will be brief,” Stockwell said. “For the small group of children who must avoid fever, these findings provide important information for clinicians and parents.”

The study followed 530 children recruited during the 2011–2012 influenza season from three community-based clinics affiliated with New York-Presbyterian and Columbia University Medical Center, who were receiving their usual vaccinations.

After controlling for age and other factors, among children who received simultaneous influenza and pneumococcal vaccines, about a third (37.6%) had a fever of 100.4 F or higher on the day of or day after vaccination, compared with children who received only the pneumococcal (9.5%) or only the influenza (7.5%) vaccine. In other words, children receiving the influenza and pneumococcal vaccine together were about three times as likely to have a fever on the day of or day after vaccination, compared with children who received either vaccine alone. 

There were no differences among the groups in rates of fever in the two to seven days after vaccination.

“We are committed to making sure that the safety of vaccines is continuously monitored and to better understanding any potential risks associated with vaccination,” stated Claudia Vellozzi, deputy director of the Immunization Safety Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the study’s senior author. “This study also demonstrates how novel approaches, like text messaging to assess fever following vaccination, can be used to enhance vaccine-safety monitoring.”

 

 

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CRN names seven new directors and appoints three new committee chairs

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Council for Responsible Nutrition on Tuesday named seven newly seated directors to its governing board, and three newly appointed committee chairs.

The seven new executives joining CRN’s Board of Directors are: Mark Hartman, Banner Life Sciences; Connie Hallquist, Healthy Directions; Mark LeDoux, Natural Alternatives International; Bret Scholtes, Omega Protein/Nutegrity; Jennifer Spalding, Abbott Nutrition; Steve Strickland, Sensient Pharmaceutical Coating Systems; and James Watson, Watson.

In addition, the three newly appointed committee chairs for 2014 include Caron Blitz of BASF Corporation, who will chair the Communications and Media Outreach Committee; Kate Houston of Cargill Health & Nutrition will chair the Government Relations Committee; and Barry Ritz of Atrium Innovations will chair the Senior Scientific Advisory Council. 

CRN’s new board of directors is comprised of 36 member company representatives and CRN president and CEO Steve Mister. 

 

 

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Mintel: Energy drink category up despite health concerns

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — According to new research from Mintel, nearly 6-in-10 Americans who are current energy drink or shot users say they worry about the safety of these beverages. 

Despite fears over safety, the energy drink, shot and mix category has beat back detractors to show consistent annual growth from 2008 to 2013 sales. The market reported a 17% increase in 2012 and is projected to repeat that growth rate in 2013.

"Energy drinks and shots faced significant scrutiny following lawsuits and proposed legislation that began in 2012. The media attention publicly challenged the safety and health effects of this pick-me-up category," stated Jenny Zegler, global food and drink analyst for Mintel Food & Drink. "However, loyal users continue to drink the products because they are viewed as more effective than other beverages. This continued level of activity in the face of adversity has helped the category’s rise to continue."

More than half of Mintel respondents (56%) who use energy drinks and/or shots do so because they are more effective for energy and alertness than other beverages. Just more than one-third (35%) say they are convenient and 31% like the taste.

When it comes to cutting down on energy drinks, health and cost are the leading reason. Indeed, 39% of Americans say they are not good for their health and 35% say they have heard negative information about their health effects. In addition, 35% say they are just too expensive.

"Manufacturers must address these health issues in order to retain current users, while concerns about price should be addressed by promotions and limited-time discounts," Zegler suggested.

When marketing to energy drinkers, men and women should be viewed differently. More than three-quarters (79%) of women ages 18 years to 34 years who drink energy beverages agree that companies should include recommended daily consumption limits on the packaging of their energy drinks, versus 71% of men. In addition, 62% of women ages 35 years and older say they worry about the safety of energy drinks and shots, compared to only 51% of their male counterparts.

"People’s desire for additional energy to accomplish everything in a given day will continue to fuel positive sales growth for the energy drink category. However, because even a portion of current users are cutting back due to health and safety concerns, companies must educate the public on the health, safety and global use of energy drinks, shots and mixes," Zegler said. "[And] innovations in serving size and/or format could keep users active in the category and perhaps inspire new entrants."

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