Pregnancy & Childhood
In March of 2001, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement warning pregnant women and young children not to eat fish containing high levels of methylmercury because of known links to neurological problems in children.
Yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that these same women and young children get seasonal influenza vaccines.
Many influenza vaccines contain ethylmercury from the preservative thimerosal, which after injection, results in blood levels exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended safe levels for mercury.
SafeMinds is deeply concerned that the risks of getting mercury-containing seasonal influenza vaccines outweigh the benefits for pregnant women, infants and children. Mercury is known to be highly toxic to brain tissue and can impact critical stages of brain development.
A large-scale scientific study in approximately 50,000 pregnant women over five flu seasons found no difference in the risk for developing influenza illness among those who received the influenza vaccine during pregnancy and those who did not. Reviews in the medical journal The Lancet found a lack of health benefit from influenza vaccine in children under two along with significantly increasing rates of vaccine- related adverse events.
Investigation into the effectiveness of the flu vaccine which examined 274 studies of influenza vaccines and 28 epidemiological studies from 1966 to 2007 with over 3,000,000 participants found only 1-in-100 people ever gets the flu virus while 7-in-100 develop flu-like illnesses.
Flu vaccine is documented to cause an inflammatory response in pregnant women. Recent research found inflammation experienced during pregnancy associated with the development of autism spectrum disorders.
Know the Facts
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that one in every six women has mercury blood levels that could pose a risk to her unborn child.
- Mercury rapidly crosses the placenta and accumulates in the fetus at higher levels than in the mother. Two studies in 2012 showed that a mothers’ mercury exposure is linked to attention problems in her children.
- Scientific studies have documented that ethylmercury used in vaccines crosses into the fetal brain and could impact critical stages of brain development.
- Some flu vaccines contain enough mercury to raise an infant’s blood levels to over 15 times EPA’s methylmercury limit and roughly double the safe limit for adults.
- It is inconsistent to recommend vaccines containing ethylmercury when also counseling pregnant women to avoid seafood high in methylmercury due to the known harmful effects mercury can have on the developing fetus.
- Thimerosal-containing flu vaccines contain 250 times the mercury level the EPA uses to classify hazardous waste. Unused thimerosal-containing flu vaccine should be returned to the manufacturer for appropriate disposal.
If You Are Pregnant or Have Small Children . . .
- If you decide to vaccinate, insist on mercury–free influenza vaccines for yourself and your children and do not get a flu vaccine the same day as other vaccines.
- Do not let yourself be pressured into receiving a vaccine that you don’t want; insist that your doctor or pharmacist find you a mercury-free vaccine if you choose one.
- If mercury-free vaccines are unavailable, look at the evidence and decide if the influenza virus is a significant concern for your family
- Also, consider the evidence regarding the effectiveness of the flu vaccine in actually preventing influenza. For information visit summaries.cochrane.org.
The FDA-assigned Pregnancy Category B
Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the
fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant
The FDA-assigned Pregnancy Category C
Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus
and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but
potential benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women
despite potential risks.
Effectiveness of Influenza Vaccine during Pregnancy in Preventing Hospitalizations and Outpatient Visits for Respiratory Illness in Pregnant Women and Their Infants Download study here.
Why are we still injecting mercury into pregnant women, infants and children? A review of the thimerosal issue. SafeMinds letter to ACIP. Download here.
Methylmercury: Epidemiology Update by Kate Mahaffey, EPA Download Power Point
Study from Pediatrics showing better efficacy of the live nasal flu vaccine vs. the inactivated flu vaccine in children – Trivalent live attenuated intranasal influenza vaccine administered during the 2003-2004 influenza type A (H3N2) outbreak provided immediate, direct, and indirect protection in children. View abstract
Study showing better efficacy of live nasal flu vaccine vs. inactivated vaccine in preventing acute otitis media in children – The Efficacy of Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine Against Influenza-associated Acute Otitis Media in Children View abstract