Dr Richard Halvorsen

offering vaccine choice

Swine Flu vaccine may have harmed pregnant women – and their babies

Many women are understandably concerned about receiving a vaccine during pregnancy. They are, after all, advised by doctors, not to take any medications unless absolutely necessary. Nevertheless, pregnant women were targeted to receive the swine flu vaccine during the 2010 swine flu 'pandemic'. This was dome in the absence of any reassuring research that the vaccine was safe when given to pregnant women. Now a study has been published in the BMJ showing that it was not entirely safe. The research on 86, 000 pregnant women in northern Italy showed that vaccinated women had a 19% increased risk of developing eclampsia or pre-eclampsia and a 26% increased risk of developing gestational diabetes, both of which are potentially serious complications of pregnancy. Perhaps even more worryingly, the vaccine may have caused an increase in congenital malformations; the study suggested a 14% increased risk, but this was not – quite – statistically significant. Reassuringly there was no increased risk in having a stillborn baby. Unsurprisingly, an accompanying editorial found these results 'reassuring'. Whilst I am relieved that the vaccine does not appear to have killed babies in the womb, the increase in complications and the possibility of an increase in damaged babies being born I find far from reassuring. It reinforces my view that no vaccine should be given in pregnancy unless the benefits clearly outweigh the risks.