The ScienceDaily website last week published a release with the headline: “Flu vaccine for expectant moms a top priority, experts say.”

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140918121450.htm

Said Dr. Edward McFabe: “Getting a flu shot should be a routine part of prenatal care.”…. “Health care providers should offer their pregnant patients a flu shot each year and if they don’t, then women should ask for it.”

Reading this, my reaction is: NO!

Until the studies look at more endpoints beyond stillbirth and birth “defects” (not at all to minimize these) – such as the more subtle risks of neurodevelopment disorders, including ADHD and learning disabilities – then I cannot agree with this recommendation. We know in utero exposures impact even adult onset diseases. For example, the flu itself during pregnancy carries higher risk of adult-onset schizophrenia, so the relationship between in utero viral infection and later illness is an important area to consider in research. But what study has considered the flu shot during pregnancy and the long-term impact into adult life? NONE…

Beyond that, I can think of many other “top” priorities. They relate to optimizing nutrition before conception, to measuring key nutrients like Vitamin D in women, to educating women of child-bearing age about the importance of optimizing the totality of their health – starting with diet, body habitus, and activity levels. I blogged about an Expanded View of Prenatal Care a while back. The flu prevention hygiene recommendations in this release themselves should not be a footnote.

So let’s dig deeper. The source of the material is the March of Dimes. The “expert” quoted in the release is the Chief Medical Officer for the March of Dimes, Dr. McFabe. I’m sure this non-profit organization does some very valuable work. The fact is that the March of Dimes is heavily supported by Sanofi-Pasteur, it’s founding member in the highest donor category, contributing more than $250,000 to the organization. This is information provided in the March of Dimes “donors list”, available online. Sanofi-Pasteur manufactures and distributes … you guessed it .. the flu vaccine, among many others. It’s entire business is vaccine development and distribution. This, then, makes one wonder about the validity of the recommendation.

Just asking: Shouldn’t we have the long term studies? Shouldn’t we look beyond the usual endpoints, given the epidemic of neurodevelopment disorders? Shouldn’t we have independent reviews and research, outside of the vaccine manufacturers? Given the involvement of governments in vaccine programs, where are they in the quest for the best research? How arms-length is government from industry? (Answer: not very) Shouldn’t research be first and foremost about determining the truth, as it relates to the totality of recommendations and human health? Shouldn’t we strive for evidence-based medicine in all areas of clinical practice?

#NotAntiVaccine #ProSafety #DebatersWelcomed

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