The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Do trace amounts of egg and milk proteins in vaccines cause egg/milk allergies in infants?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/9/2017 Category: Science
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 412 times Debate No: 103871
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Most vaccines contain small amounts of egg and milk in them as the viruses are grown in egg and milk broths. Milk and egg allergy are becoming common in infants and it could be because the trace amounts of egg and milk in vaccines are making them allergic, as Charles Richet demonstrated over a hundred years ago that injecting a protein into animals or humans causes the immune system to sensitize to that protein, and that exposure to that protein in the future can result in allergic reactions or anaphylaxis.


Thanks, Granto-

Addressing the topic of the debate: "Do trace amounts of egg and milk proteins in vaccines cause egg/milk allergies in infants?", the short answer is no.

Food allergies in humans (including infants) are caused by an abnormal immune response, specifically when one part of the body's immune defense system, immunoglobulin E, binds to particular categories of food molecules, provoking inflammation. If milk caused milk allergies, everybody who drank milk would be allergic. If eggs caused egg allergies, everybody exposed to eggs would be allergic.

So, vaccines are no more the cause of an allergic reaction than any other type of exposure, including more commonplace exposures like drinking milk or eating eggs. It is possible, but rare, for the small amount of protein present in some vaccines to elicit an abnormal response but the degree of exposure is important. Eating a little dairy is far more hazardous than vaccination to a person with a severe allergy.

Since the primary method of confirming an allergy is a controlled exposure under the supervision of a healthcare professional, exposure by vaccine has an important advantage over most other, more commonplace, venues for exposure.
Patients with a history of hypersensitivity to relevant antigens are typically vaccinated in a hospital setting.
Evidence suggests that the most effective prevention against food allergies is early exposure to allergens. [1] Vaccinations at infancy, therefore, likely present prophylactic advantages.

Pro suggests that most vaccines contain egg or milk proteins. A more accurate comparative would be less than half, and fewer all the time as alternative cell cultures are innovated.

Of the 25 vaccines recognized by the World Health Organization, 7 sometimes contain egg:

Yellow fever, Rabies, and Tick-Borne encephalitis
are not on regular child vaccination schedules and are also not contraindicated for egg allergies, even prior anaphylaxis.

Influenza is usually scheduled at six month and once per year thereafter. Non-egg vaccines are just becoming available. An NIH study of paper & abstracts from 1977-2012 looked at Flu vaccinations in 4,172 egg-allergic recipients and found no variance in reactions when compared to non-allergic recipients. [2]. The NIH recommends the flu vaccine, even for the severely egg allergic.

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccines are usually administered at 12 months. Prevalence of anaphylaxis is relatively high: 1.2 cases per million vaccinations in Europe, 3.5 cases per million in the US but the majority of cases were likely due to gelatin allergies, not egg. [2]

5 vaccines sometimes contain milk:

Oral Polio Vaccine (a no milk injection is widely preferred)
Diphtheria, tetanus, & pertussis
is generally administered 3 times during infancy beginning at 2 months. Of the more than 22 million shots administered in the US annually, the NIH reported 39 cases of anaphylaxis over a 3 year period (about 1 per 1.7 million shots), at least 8 of which demonstrated milk allergy. [3]

Pneumococcal conjugate is not administered to infants.

Pro states that milk and egg allergies are becoming common in infants, suggesting this is due to early milk & egg sensitization by vaccine. This statement glosses over a number of complex considerations.

Food allergies have always been more common in infants as immune systems gradually become more desensitized over time and exposure to allergens. Food allergies generally affect 5-7% of children but only 1-2% of adults. [4]
Although reporting and diagnosis of food allergies in children is definitely on the rise (one CDC survey found an increase from 3.4% to 5.1% between 1999 and 2011), [5] the factors contributing to this rise are fairly murky. 30% of Americans report having one or more food allergies, six times the clinical prevalence. [6] Much of this is self-diagnosing non-allergic intolerances, food poisoning, digestive complaints, etc. But partly this is also due the lack of a solid clinical definition. [7]
Food allergy reporting is on the rise generally, not specifically to milk and eggs. If the presence of milk and eggs in vaccines was the cause of increases, shouldn"t we see correlative increase in milk and egg allergies relative to shellfish, gelatin, yeast, peanuts, etc? But this isn't the case. Peanut allergy prevalence, for example, has more than tripled from 1997 to 2010, [8] but there are no peanuts in vaccines.
DTaP vaccines have been widely administered in the US since the late "40s, MMR vaccines since the mid-60"s. If allergies prevalence correlated to vaccines, why didn't we see a significant increase in infant food allergies until the 90"s.
Further, since fewer vaccines use milk and egg today than was true in prior decades, why aren't we seeing an associated decline in food allergies?

I"d encourage Pro to note that immunologists have been dramatically reconsidering the advantages of exposing infants to allergens at an early age, rather than the reverse. The consensus seems to be that recent increases in food allergies are more likely caused by under exposure at an early age, driven in part by comparative studies of nations with less restrictive infant diets, learning that food allergies are less common in those places.

As of this year, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases now recommends that infants start eating peanuts and other solid foods as soon as 3 months. [9] Eggs are also back on the menu at 4-6 months. [10] Milk is still restricted for the first year for primarily nutritional rather than allergic concerns.

In other words, doctors are discovering that early exposure to allergens probably decreases allergy prevalence rather than increases prevalence, likely making Pro"s theory, already disproved, the opposite of true.

I look forward to Pro"s response in the second round.

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Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by levi_smiles 2 years ago
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