By Barbara Loe Fisher
It was 1977 when I found out I was going to become a Mom. I instinctively knew I needed to be careful while I was pregnant, especially during the first two trimesters when the major organ systems of the fetus develop at a rapid rate. In the 1960′s there had been a lot of publicity about babies dying or being born without arms or legs because women had taken a drug (Thalidomide) for morning sickness in the first or second trimester of pregnancy1 and I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to protect my health and the health of my baby before and after he was born.
Mothers to be in my generation were told to take extra vitamins and eat nutritious food but, most of all, to avoid anything that could harm the developing fetus like alcohol, cigarette smoke, medications, radiation, household cleaning products and other toxic exposures. Some of us were aware of the risks of heavy anesthesia during delivery and signed up for Lamaze classes to prepare for a drug-free birth, which many obstetricians discouraged, and we chose to breastfeed, even though a lot of pediatricians were pushing formula and bottles back then.
Today, pregnant women face a different set of difficult questions and choices about keeping themselves and their babies healthy. Among them are whether or not to get vaccinations during pregnancy that public health officials, obstetricians and pediatricians say will protect pregnant women and their newborns from getting sick with influenza and B. pertussis whooping cough.
Toxic Exposures & Assumption of Safety – Is It A Good Idea?
Although since the 1970′s public health officials have recommended influenza vaccinations for pregnant women in the second or third trimester,2 relatively few obstetricians promoted the vaccine until the past decade when, in 2006, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) strengthened recommendations that all pregnant women, healthy or not, should get a flu shot in any