Narcolepsy Swine flu Pandemrix
By Leon Watson
A mother is to sue the Government after her son developed narcolepsy when he received a swine flu jab causing him to sleep for 19 hours a day.
Seven-year-old Josh Hadfield developed the condition within three weeks of receiving the drug and now suffers 'attacks' which can cause him to doze through the day.
He would fall asleep up to every five minutes - even when he was walking, eating and swimming - and suffered sudden seizures when he laughs.
Caroline Hadfield, from Frome, Somerset, with her seven-year-old son Josh Hadfield who contracted narcolepsy in reaction to receiving the swine flu vaccine
Now his mother Caroline Hadfield, 42, is taking legal action after the Health Protection Agency found there was a ten-fold increased risk of the disorder in children given the drug, Pandemrix.
Josh received the vaccine at his local GP surgery on January 21, 2010, after Mrs Hadfield was told he was 'at risk' of the H1N1 virus because he was under five.
But Mrs Hadfield, of Frome, Somerset, said that within weeks of the jab she noticed a drastic change in her son.
'He was a perfectly healthy energetic four-year-old before the vaccination, but within two weeks he was getting more tired and after three weeks he was sleeping for 19 hours.
'Things then developed quickly and he struggled to walk. Nothing could convince me it was anything but the jab which caused Josh's conditions.
'The Government had a knee-jerk reaction to swine flu and put out this vaccine, giving it to very young children.'
Josh Hadfield, seven, is now on medication to control the condition but lives in constant fear of future episodes and refuses to do anything which may set them off, such as sledging
Josh is now on medication to control the condition but they live in constant fear of narcolepsy attacks.
Mrs Hadfield, a civil servant, said: 'Laughter can trigger attacks and Josh was too anxious about fear of an incident to go sledging in last week's snow.
'You see other children who can laugh and enjoy things and yes Josh can laugh and enjoy things but his reaction means that he goes unconscious.
'We feel we are constantly treading on eggshells.'
The vaccine was widely used in the UK during the 2009-2010 flu pandemic and given to almost one million children between the ages of six months and five-years-old.
However, after a number of trials across the EU, it is no longer in use when links between the drug and narcolepsy were found in youngsters from Finland, Sweden and Ireland.
Sleepy: The youngster received the vaccine at his local GP surgery on January 21, 2010
In July 2011 the European Medicines Authority advised against giving it to the under 20s.
The Health Protection Agency then commissioned a study in UK children and found that there was an estimated risk of the disorder in one in 52,000 in those vaccinated.
Specialists reviewed 75 children aged between four and 18 who developed narcolepsy after the vaccine and found a 10-fold increased risk of the condition within six months of having the jab.
These findings led them to state that the link suggested a 'causal association consistent with reports from Finland and Sweden'.
The results, which was highlighted in BBC programme Inside Out West, saw prominent scientists agree with the findings.
Professor Adam Finn, from the University of Bristol, who was in charge of one of the paediatric clinical trials of Pandemrix, said: 'The bottom line is that they found that there was somewhere between 10 and 16 times more likely to have had Pandemrix than other children.
'If you look at the figures, from what I can see the risk is so much increased that it seems very unlikely that this is a biased result. It is likely to be real.'
Now Mrs Hadfield and father Charlie, 47, a printer, have joined a group of other parents preparing legal action after their children developed similar symptoms.
But the Department of Work and Pensions, which is responsible for administering the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme, said there is currently insufficient medical evidence to show that the swine flu vaccine causes narcolepsy.
Mrs Hadfield said that the HPA report was a huge leap forward and she did not know how the Government could ignore it.
She added: 'That is the first report I have seen that has been published which shows that there is a 20 to 16 fold increase in cases since the vaccines was given.
'That is a huge, huge, leap forward and I can't really see now how the Government can turn around and say that there's no link because obviously there is.'
GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical company which produced the drug, said it was working hard to better understand the research emerging from a number of countries.
A spokesperson said: 'Narcolepsy is a complex disease and its causes are not yet fully understood but it is generally considered to be associated with genetic and environmental factors, including infections.
'It is crucial we learn more about how narcolepsy is triggered and how Pandemrix may have interacted with other risk factors in affected individuals.'