Vaccines During Pregnancy: 12 Things Every Mother Needs To Know

No mother wants to see her newborn baby struggling to breath because of whooping cough or influenza infection. It’s an emotive issue that the media has played on, but what are the facts regarding vaccines during pregnancy?

Currently, there are two vaccines recommended for pregnant women – the annual influenza vaccine, and the Tdap vaccine, which combines tetanus, diptheria and pertussis vaccines. Note that when you are administered a “whooping cough”, or pertussis vaccine, it is actually three vaccines combined into one. There is no single vaccine available for whooping cough (pertussis).

Here are some things to consider before getting those jabs – facts that your doctor may not have mentioned…

  • Science has known for more than a decade  that immune activation during pregnancy has negative consequences for the unborn child, namely for the child’s mental and emotional development. Some of the side-effects of immune activation – whether by random natural infection or deliberately through vaccination, or injection of toxins, are brain and behavioural changes similar to those seen in autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders [1-5].
  • Some of these changes may not be evident until the child reaches adolescence, or even adulthood, when adult-onset schizophrenia and other mental illnesses manifest [6-7]. The problem is that we have safety studies declaring vaccination during pregnancy to be “safe” for the child…after following up the child for only 6mths – far too early for the long-term consequences to become evident [8].
  • The multidose flu vaccine still contains thimerosal, which is approximately 50% mercury by weight. Mercury is highly toxic, especially to the developing child, who accumulates more mercury than the mother [9]. This means the baby can experience neurological damage and other consequences, without the mother showing any outward symptoms of harm.
  • Side effects of fetal mercury poisoning, include mental retardation, seizures, learning and behavioural disorders, vision/hearing loss, and problems with motor skills and coordination [10-12].
  • Widespread vaccination for whooping cough began more than half a century ago. In the 1980’s, when safety concerns saw vaccination rates plummet, research revealed that hospital admission rates and mortality had also unexpectedly dropped [13]. Now we have increasing vaccination…and increasing incidence of whooping cough [14]. You do the math!
  • Although studies have looked at the vaccines ability to induce antibodies in the mother and child [15], we are still waiting for real evidence that vaccinating pregnant women for whooping cough has decreased the incidence of infection in newborn babies. On their website, the CDC says “Public health professionals expect that having mothers get the whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy will prevent more babies from ending up in the hospital and dying from whooping cough than if mothers get the vaccine after delivery” [16]. In other words…they don’t actually know for sure, but they hope this strategy will result in less infections in neonates, since the previous strategy of vaccinating post-partum mothers did not work [17].
  • Several years ago, the prestigious Cochrane Review Database attempted to decipher whether the current vaccination program was proving to be effective in actual real-world terms – ie. Decrease in hospitalizations or mortality of infants. For reasons unknown, they were unable to complete the review [18].
  • Over the past few years, pertussis (whooping cough) has undergone a strain shift, due to selective pressure of widespread vaccination. This means that many pertussis cases are now caused by a strain that is not even included in the vaccine [19]. In fact, it appears that vaccination actually increases your risk of contracting the new strains of pertussis [20]. It also appears that many cases of pertussis are now spread via those who have been vaccinated, and do not realize they are infectious [21]. Note the case of a vaccinated healthcare worker, who unwittingly infected four newborn babies under her care [22].
  • The vaccine insert for the Tdap vaccine administered during pregnancy, clearly states that it is not known whether the vaccine can cause fetal harm or affect reproduction capacity [23]. It also clearly states that the vaccine has not been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or ability to impair fertility [23-24].
  • Influenza vaccination is only claimed to protect against A and B strains, which make up around 10% of known circulating strains. Out of those A and B strains, the vaccine is only formulated against a handful of genotypes, predicted to be the most virulent in any given flu season [25].
  • Research has shown that influenza vaccination during pregnancy, has little to no effect on influenza or respiratory illness in infants [26-27].
  • The Tdap vaccine administered during pregnancy contains aluminum – a known neurotoxin and heavy metal. Animal studies suggest that exposure during pregnancy increases risk of growth retardation, neurobehavioural deficits, reproductive toxicity and death in the offspring [28-29].

Vaccines during pregnancy, is the risk worth the supposed benefits? You be the judge…

[1] Malkova NV, Yu CZ, Hsiao EY, et al. Maternal immune activation yields offspring displaying mouse versions of the three core symptoms of autism, Brain Behaviour Immunity, 2012, 26(4):607-616.

[2] Shi L, Smith SEP, Malkova N, et al. Activation of the maternal immune system alters cerebellar development in the offspring, Brain Behav Immun, 2009, 23(1): 116-123.

[3] Pendyala G, Chou S, Jung Y, et al. Maternal immune activation causes behavioural impairments and altered cerebellar cytokine and synaptic protein expression, Neuro Psych, 2017, epub ahead of print.

[4] Garay PA, Hsiao EY, Patterson PH, McAllister AK. Maternal immune activation causes age- and region-specific changes in brain cytokines in offspring throughout development, Brain Behav Immunol, 2013, 31:54-68.

[5] ] Smith SE, Li J, Garbett K, Mirnics K, Patterson PH. Maternal immune activation alters fetal brain development through interleukin-6, J Neurosci, 2007, 27(40):10695-702.

[6] Nyffeler M, Meyer U, Yee BK, et al. Maternal immune activation during pregnancy increases limbic GABAa receptor immunoreactivity in the adult offspring; implications for schizophrenia, Neuroscience, 2006, 143(1): 51-62.

[7] Zuckerman L, Weiner I. Maternal immune activation leads to behavioural and pharmacological changes in the adult offspring, J Psych Res, 2005, 39(3): 311-323.

[8] Munoz FM, Greisinger AJ, Wehmanen AO, et al. Safety of influenza vaccination during pregnancy, Am J Ob Gyn, 2005, 192(4): 1098-1106.

[9] Kuhnert PM, Kuhnert BR, Erhard P. ComParison of mercury levels in maternal blood, fetal cord blood, and Placental tissues, Am J Obstet Gynecol, 1981, 139(2): 209-213.

[10] Patrizi A, Rizzoli L, Vencenzi C, Previsi P, Tosti A. Sensitization to thimerosal in atopic children. Contact Dermatitis, 1999, 40(2): 94-97.

[11] Vojdani A, Pangborn JB, Vojdani E, Cooper EL. Infections, toxic chemicals and dietary peptides binding to lymphocyte receptors and tissue enzymes are major institgators of autoimmunity in autism. Int J Immun Pharm, 2003, 16(3): 189-199.

[12] Mrozek-Budzyn D, Majewska R, Kieltyka A, Augustyniak M. Neonatal exposure to thimerosal from vaccines and child development in the first 3 years of life. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 2012, 34(6): 592-597.

[13] Pollock TM, Miller E, Lobb J. Severity of whooping cough in England before and after the decline in pertussis immunisation, Arch Dis Child, 1984, 59(2):162-165.

.[14] Tan T, Trindade E, Skowronski D. Epidemiology of pertussis, Pediatr Infect Dis J, 2005, 24(5):S10-8.

[15] Gkentzi D, Katsakiori p, Marangos p, et al. Maternal vaccination against pertussis: a systematic review of the recent literature, Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed, 2017, Epub ahead of print

[16] CDC: Get the whooping cough vaccine while pregnant, https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/pregnant/mom/get-vaccinated.html. Accessed 31st May, 2017.

[17] Healy CM, Rench MA, Wootton SH, Castagnini LA. Evaluation of the impact of a pertussis cocooning program on infant pertussis infection, Pediatr Infect Dis J, 2015, 34(1):22-26.

[18] Cochrane Library: Vaccination in pregnancy to prevent pertussis in infancy, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD010923.pub2/abstract;jsessionid=1704C1E6CCF34B8FE88155BDC8BEE873.f02t03. Accessed 31st May, 2017.

[19] Octavia S, Sintchenko V, Gilbert GL, et al. Newly emerging clones Bordetella pertussisCarrying prn2 and ptxP3 Alleles Implicated in Australian Pertussis Epidemic in 2008–2010, J Infect Dis, 2012, 25(8):1220-1224.

[20] CDC: Meeting of the Board of Scientific Counselors, Office of Infectious Diseases, https://www.cdc.gov/maso/facm/pdfs/BSCOID/2013121112_BSCOID_Minutes.pdf, pp6, Accessed 31st May, 2017.

[21] Althouse BM, Scarpino SV. Asymptomatic transmission and the resurgence of bordetella pertussis, BMC Med, 2015, 13:146.

[22] Paterson JM, et al. Nosocomial Pertussis infection of infants: still a risk in 2009, Commun Dis Intell Q ReP, 2010, 34(4).

[23] Adacel Vaccine Insert, https://www.vaccineshoppe.com/image.cfm?doc_id=10437&image_type=product_pdf. Accessed  31st May, 2017.

[24] Boostrix Vaccine Insert, https://www.gsksource.com/pharma/content/dam/GlaxoSmithKline/US/en/Prescribing_Information/Boostrix/pdf/BOOSTRIX.PDF. Accessed 31st May, 2017.

[25] Cochrane Library: Vaccines to prevent influenza in healthy adults, www.cochrane.org/CD001269/ARI_vaccines-to-prevent-influenza-in-healthy-adults, Accessed February, 2017.

[26] France EK, Smith-Ray R, McClure D, et al. Impact of maternal influenza vaccination during pregnancy on the incidence of acute respiratory illness visits among infants, Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 2006, 160(12):1277-1283.

[27]Black SB, Shinefield HR, France EK, et al. Effectiveness of influenza vaccine during pregnancy in preventing hospitalizations and outpatient visits for respiratory illness in pregnant women and their infants, Am J Perinatol, 2004, 21(6):333-339.

[28] Benett RW, Persaud TV, Moore KL. Experimental studies on the effects of aluminum on pregnancy and fetal development, Anat Anz, 1975, 138(5):365-378.

[29] Domingo JL. Reproductive and developmental toxicity of aluminum: a review, Neurotoxicol Teratol, 1995, 17 (4):515-521.