October 10, 2009
Flu Infection During Pregnancy Harmful To Fetal Brains

Pregnant women should seriously ponder whether to get to a doctor and get vaccinated for H1N1 flu and regular seasonal flu. Babies in the womb during the great 1918 flu pandemic suffered more brain development and other development problems.

Flu poses still more risks for the unborn. In April, it was reported that men who were in the womb in early 1970, when a mild flu pandemic hit Norway, had lower scores in army intelligence tests than normal. A 2006 study showed that babies in the womb in September 1918 went on to have lower incomes and education levels, and higher rates of disability. And babies whose mothers have ordinary flu in early pregnancy are 7 times as likely to develop schizophrenia.

That's not good.

A New York Times flu vaccine Q&A includes an item that perhaps suggests at least one reason why flu during pregnancy is especially problematic: pregnancy temporarily reduces lung capacity and so oxygen supply would be especially impacted by flu-caused lung congestion. That'd have harmful effects on fetal development.

A woman’s immune system is compromised during pregnancy. Late in the pregnancy, the fetus pushes up against the thoracic cage and decreases a woman’s lung capacity, putting her at risk for respiratory complications if she contracts flu. A New England Journal study found that pregnant women with swine flu were nine times more likely to be in intensive care.

Think you might get pregnant this winter or already pregnant? Think about flu shots.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 October 10 07:13 PM  Brain Development

John Moore said at October 10, 2009 9:40 PM:

If you breathe, you should think about flu shots, and then you should get them. Not only will it save you discomfort at a minimum, death or disability at worst, it will also cut the spread maybe saving some pregnant person who doesn't get a shot.

Billy Oblivion said at October 11, 2009 1:02 AM:

It really depends on the cause of the lowered brain functionality, if it's because of respiratory problems of the mother, then getting the shot is probably a good idea. If it's because of something the flu virus DOES, then the vaccine, if it's weakened live virus, might have similar effects. If the cause is something the immune system does in reaction to the virus, then ANY flu inoculation might cause the problem.

Herd immunity is a good thing, but so is making sure that there is enough of the supply so that those most in danger can get the shot.

My wife and my baby will get the inoculation. I, unless required by my employer, will not (I sort of work for the government.) I'm a moderately healthy middle aged male who practices decent hygiene. I also can and will stay home if I get sufficiently ill. Well, once I get back to the states anyway.

I would rather risk getting sick and let the infants, the elderly, the immune compromised and etc. get the shot.

Lono said at October 12, 2009 8:26 AM:

Well - as a BioScientist myself - I have many reservations about the current shots available.

But let me put it this way - would you buy a toy for your infant from a Chinese company that refused to tell you what the toy was made of - and who was shielded from any sort of liability or lawsuit by the U.S. Govt?

No - of course not - the thing could have lead paint - break into easily swallowable pieces - and might have many dangerous sharp edges that could be easily exposed.

Well - if you take this H1N1 shot - you are pretty much injecting that toy right into their bloodstream - good luck with that!

I'm certainly not anti-vaccine - but shouldn't we demand accountability in our health care providers first?

Momtobe said at October 22, 2009 10:49 AM:

I agree with Lono 100%. As a pregnant women myself, I would not take that risk. My mom works in the hospital and has told me the doctors she works with all refuse to get the H1N1. Does that not tell you something right there?

Dayspring said at October 18, 2010 8:28 AM:

Expecting moms, please do not get the flu shot! It contains between 25mcg mercury, or 5mgc mercury (for the reduced-mercury version, considered "safe"). One serving of shark or tilefish, which "should be avoided" during pregnancy contains less than 1mcg of mercury. I got a flu shot with my #2 pregnancy, and my baby had a speech delay as well as social and other issues. I know at least 3 moms with the same experience (2 moms got the flu shot, one had Rho-Gam with 25mcg Mercury). I don't know any that have had the flu shot during and not had any problems with their children later. Don't risk it.

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