pregnant women

The chemicals within us

JenniferSitting before a Senate subcommittee is a young mother. She is slim, pretty, intelligent . . . and full of dangerous chemicals.

Molly Jones Gray of Seattle testified this week in Washington, D.C., regarding human exposure to toxic chemicals.  After participating in a study conducted by the Washington Toxics Coalition, a pregnant Gray was horrified to learn that her body contained a variety of dangerous chemicals. Gray said she was testifying not only on her own behalf, but also for her 7-month-old son Paxton. She told the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health:

On behalf of my son Paxton and all other children, I am asking for your help to lower our body burdens of chemicals that come between us and our health.

The Toxics Coalition conducted a study testing nine pregnant women from Washington, Oregon, and California for five groups of chemicals: phthalates, mercury, so-called “Teflon” chemicals known as perfluorinated compounds, bisphenol A, and the flame retardant tetrabromobisphenol A.

The study, entitled Earliest Exposures, examined the blood and urine of the nine women in their second trimester.

H1N1 vaccine for pregnant women: known risks vs the unknown

Despite the relative newness of the H1N1 flu vaccine, experts from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control say pregnant women can and should be at the front of the line to receive their shots.

The reason?  Pregnant women's immune systems and lung capacity are diminished by bearing another life within them, making them more susceptible to be hospitalized, miscarry or die due to contracting the flu.

So whether it is the H1N1 vaccine or Tamiflu (also used to treat garden variety influenza), the Los Angeles Times' Shari Roan reports that CDC scientists and doctors' associations recommend treatment of flu-like symptoms in pregnant women should begin even before it is confirmed they have the flu.

Understandably, pregnant women are reluctant to put drugs into their bodies that they fear could affect their babies, and subsequently they vaccinate themselves less than the general population.   But the known risks -- of death, pneumonia, hospitalization and miscarriage -- outweigh the unknown, doctors say.

Until this year, Tamiflu was not recommended for pregnant women because of the uncertainty about damaging the fetus.  That lack of data remains today, though recent Canadian studies did not find that Tamiflu caused a higher rate of birth defects than what is considered normal.

The CDC posts regular updates about how the H1N1 flu is rapidly spreading through the county, and who it is affecting most: 95 children have died so far.

Carol Smith's picture

Pregnant women among first slated to receive H1N1 vaccine


Pregnant women and others considered especially vulnerable to H1N1 flu virus will be the first to get a vaccine when it's available this fall, according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Federal health officials expect about 120 million doses of the vaccine to be available by October, but that won't even be enough to cover all those considered high priority to get the flu shots.

Lisa Rosetta of the Salt Lake Tribune reports that Utah has had 294 cases of H1N1 flu since the pandemic began. Of those, 7.1 percent were in pregnant women.