A Reader Asks Dr. Feder: I’m 3 months pregnant and my doctor is encouraging me to get the flu shot. Is this safe for the baby?
Although we have all suffered from influenza (flu) one time or another, many people don’t realize that the flu can be a severe illness. The flu is a contagious disease caused by a virus that can cause the characteristic fever, body aches, tiredness, sore throat, runny nose and cough. Millions of people get the flu every year and most people recover within 1-2 weeks. Some people develop complications like pneumonia. The flu accounts for nearly 20,000 deaths per year.
For this reason the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has come up with guidelines for the flu shot. A yearly flu shot is recommended for people who are at increased risk for serious complications from the flu (i.e. the elderly and people who are chronically ill). The CDC recommends that women who will be more than 3 months pregnant during the flu season get the flu shot.
Is this safe for the baby? The CDC and doctors who recommend the flu shot during the second and third trimester feel it is safe. However, the flu shot contains mercury. Mercury can pass through the placenta and accumulate in the unborn child. Mercury is toxic and can cause damage to the brain and nervous system to the developing bodies of unborn babies, infants and young children.
The FDA has advised that women of child bearing age avoid such fish as shark, mackeral, swordfish, tuna and tilefish. A pregnant woman who eats a serving of swordfish could subject her developing fetus to toxic levels of mercury. Based on the Environmental Agency standards, a young child is at risk of exposure by eating more than one sandwich of chunk light tuna each week. A pregnant mother eating 1/2 can of tuna each day would be exposing her unborn baby to unsafe doses of mercury.
As a physician, who specializes in homeopathy and holistic health, I am bombarded with questions about the safety of vaccinations. I like to provide my patients with all the information available. This allows them to make well informed decisions. Currently there are groups like National Vaccine Information Center who are demanding that toxic chemicals like mercury be removed from vaccinations.
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