In Some Cases, Vaccination Needles May Be Too Long

September 4, 2008

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommended needle lengths for children's vaccinations pose a considerable risk for overpenetration, according to research in the September issue of Pediatrics.

THURSDAY, Sept. 4 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommended needle lengths for children's vaccinations pose a considerable risk for overpenetration, according to research in the September issue of Pediatrics.

William C. Lippert, of Tulane University in New Orleans, and Eric J. Wall, M.D., of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, analyzed 250 MRI and computed tomography scans of children aged 2 months to 18 years of age to measure the subcutaneous fat and muscle thickness in their shoulders and thighs.

Based on these measurements, the CDC's recommended needle lengths for thigh vaccinations in children over 12 months -- 1 inch and 1 1⁄4 inch -- would lead to overpenetration in 11 percent and 39 percent of patients, respectively, the researchers report. For shoulder vaccinations, the recommended 5⁄8-, 7⁄8- or 1-inch needles would cause overpenetration in 11 percent, 55 percent and 61 percent, respectively, they note.

"We advise that a 1⁄2-in needle be used for any girl who weighs ≤ 70 kg and any boy who weighs ≤ 75 kg. A 5⁄8-in needle is recommended for any girl who weighs between 70 and 115 kg and any boy who weighs between 75 and 140 kg. A 7⁄8-in or longer needle should be used for any girl who weighs more than 115 kg and any boy who weighs more than 140 kg. With these recommendations, 90 percent of both female and male patients would be vaccinated safely at the intramuscular level. Also, these recommendations ensure a 0 percent overpenetration rate for all patients," the authors write.

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