Intussusception Painful Condition Caused by Rotavirus Vaccine
For the vast majority of children, the rotavirus vaccine causes mild or no symptoms. It also prevents the severe diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting, and fever the rotavirus causes.
But for many babies, this vaccine does more harm than good. In fact, it can cause intussusception. This condition can lead to peritonitis, a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.
What is Intussusception?
According to the Mayo Clinic, this is when one part of your intestine slides into another. This blocks any food or fluid from passing through. It also cuts off blood supply to part of your intestine. It’s common in children under 3, and rare in adults.
The CDC says 1,900 infants get intussusception before age 1 each year. It’s most common between 5 and 12 months, and boys get it twice as often as girls. Older children also get intussusception, but that’s rare.
As long as your child gets prompt treatment, they usually make a full recovery. Most, but not all infants, completely recover from this condition.
What Causes Intussusception?
Medical experts do not know most of the causes in the case of children. The Mayo Clinic explains that it often happens in the fall and winter, and also causes flu-like symptoms, so it could be a virus that most often causes the condition.
Researchers have found a link between the rotavirus vaccines RotaTeq and Rotarix and intussusception. However, the results are not currently conclusive. So, for the time being, these two rotavirus vaccines are still in use. If your child has experienced symptoms of intussusception, especially following a first or second dose of rotavirus vaccine, you may be eligible for compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
What Signs and Symptoms of Intussusception Should I Look for After My Infant Gets the Rotavirus Vaccine?
In the vast majority of cases, babies experience no symptoms, or mild and temporary diarrhea and vomiting, after getting the rotavirus vaccine. Most likely, you have nothing to worry about.
However, in some rare cases, babies do experience noticeable symptoms of intussusception, like:
- Stomach pain
- Severe crying that lasts a few minutes
- Multiple bouts of severe crying in an hour
- Bloody stools
- Extreme irritability
- Acting physically weak and tired
If your baby experiences these symptoms, you should immediately call your doctor and tell them your baby recently had the rotavirus vaccine. If your doctor’s not available, you should take your baby to the emergency room immediately. Intussusception is a serious condition that can eventually cause additional complications that lead to death.
When Should I Look for Symptoms of Intussusception?
Complications from this condition usually happen the first week after the first or second dose of the rotavirus vaccine. However, it’s still possible to get intussusception after that timeframe – but the chances significantly drop.
Your baby can also get intussusception completely unrelated to the rotavirus vaccine at any time. Again, the chances are low.
How Do You Treat Intussusception?
When caught promptly, this condition is reasonably easy for medical professionals to treat. And it’s most likely your baby will make a full recovery.
Treating intussusception in babies works like this:
- Using an IV to give your baby fluids
- Inserting a tube through a child’s nose and into their stomach to decompress their intestines
Initial diagnosis and treatment begins with an air enema. Your doctor may also use an abdominal X-ray to do the diagnosis. With the air enema procedure, your doctor inserts a small soft tube into your baby’s rectum. Air goes through. As it does, it unfolds your baby’s bowels and removes the blockage.
If it works, no further action is needed. However, intussusception also recurs 15-20% of the time (and usually within 72 hours of the procedure), so it may be necessary to repeat the treatment.
If the air enema doesn’t work, doctors perform a surgical procedure. The surgeon frees the trapped part of the intestine, removes any obstructions, and takes away any dead internal tissue.
In some rare cases, intussusception does disappear without treatment. If you suspect intussusception, however, you should seek medical attention for your baby immediately.
What is the Long-Term Outlook for Children with Intussusception?
Most children fully recover. However, if a large portion of the child’s intestine is removed, the child may not get the nutrients their body needs. In this case, special IV catheters may be needed to supplement your child’s nutrition.
If your child has experienced intussusception as a result of the rotavirus vaccine, you may be entitled to compensation.