One of the questions that keep entering the discourse on the COVID-19 vaccine is whether it should be given during pregnancy. There’s not a definitive answer, but there is some good advice based on evidence from leading infectious disease experts.
I’m not here to make a recommendation one way or another regarding whether the COVID-19 vaccine should be given during pregnancy. My job is to provide the evidence and the recommendations so that every woman can be armed with this when speaking to their healthcare provider.
It may appear that scientific skeptics are always criticizing any newly published scientific article that doesn’t fit some imaginary point of view. Personally, I evaluate and critique a lot of “scientific” articles that make the rounds on the pseudoscience websites, such as the recent “canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease” nonsense. Now, a new article has been published that claims that non-ionizing radiation causes miscarriage in a respected journal.
Of course, based on this one article, many news organization and legitimate websites have jumped all over it – “Miscarriage rates triple for women with top radiation exposures” is a typical headline. When I see a new science article get that much play in the press, my skeptical radar goes on full sensitivity mode. I just know there’s something wrong with the original science.
I am hoping that someday this vaccines-autism myth will disappear into the ether, but here we go again with the 159th peer-reviewed, published, and scientific article that says there is no link between vaccines and autism. OK, there’s probably more than 159, but that’s how many I’ve counted.
Why do I keep posting articles about vaccines and autism? Many of us, and I include me in that “us,” think that there’s no convincing the anti-vaccine zealots using real science, so why bother. It’s true that the pseudoscience-pushing anti-vaxxers are going to cover their eyes and just believe what they want to believe.
However, I’ve always felt that our job on the internet is to contradict the misinformation from the anti-vaxxers not to convince them, but to convince those who are on the fence – those parents who keep reading good and bad things about vaccines, trying to decide if they want to protect their kids.
Recently, I received a message on Facebook from a young mother that said she had decided to give her teen daughter the HPV vaccine just because of my relentless support of that cancer-preventing vaccine. It makes this worth the effort.
An economist, with absolutely no background in science, writes a lame article that claims that the HPV vaccine affects pregnancy rate. Somehow, because of reasons, unknown to modern science.
I thought I had read it all, but here comes one out of recesses of the anti-vaccine mind – where logic and science disappear into a black hole. Gayle DeLong writes another useless article that’s embraced by the anti-vaccine religion because they’ve got nothing else.
The anti-vaccine religion definitely hates the HPV vaccine more than any other one out there. They invent more lies about it while ignoring the overwhelming scientific consensus about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. But relying upon facts is generally not something found in the anti-vaccine wheelhouse.
Of course, the false claims about the HPV vaccine often rely upon pseudoscience produced by anti-vaccine shills like the oft-retracted Shaw and Tomljenovic, the infamous Lyons-Weiler, and the preposterous Shoenfeld. Because the anti-vaxxers lack any evidence to support their dislike of the HPV vaccine, they require the appeal to false authority to claim that these discredited pseudoscientists’ work is somehow more important than all of the body evidence, from real, respected scientists, that supports HPV vaccine safety and effectiveness.
I know that many people, even healthcare professionals, make lame excuses about a maternal flu vaccine. We have heard everything from “the vaccine gives me the flu” to “I never get the flu” to “the flu isn’t dangerous.” These anti-vaccine beliefs betray the overwhelming facts about the safety and effectiveness of the flu vaccine, especially for pregnant mothers.
Her appalling article tried to convince the reader that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine caused a decrease in fertility. If this were a real article, I’d be appalled, but it was a garbage article. It failed basic scientific statistical analysis like accounting for confounding data. Furthermore, Gayle DeLong provided no convincing biologically plausible mechanism describing how the HPV vaccine could affect pregnancy rates. And her references were ridiculous – she cited Mark and David Geier, who can charitably be called charlatans who attempted to “treat” autistic children with a horrific and unethical procedure. And she actually mentioned Mark Geier in her acknowledgments.
Furthermore, she ignored the vast body of evidence, published by real scientists, not an expert in international finance, in real journals that the HPV vaccine is demonstrably safe. And in those huge studies, some with millions of patients, there was no detectable difference in fertility rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. This issue only exists in the mind of Gayle DeLong and other anti-vaccine activists.
And now it’s time for me correct this egregious oversight on the part of the feathered dinosaur’s body of work on supplements. Just to be clear, I always state an important caveat on my dismissing the usefulness of vitamins and supplements – those individuals with chronic disease or malnutrition may require supplements. For example, if you never touch a fruit or vegetable, you will probably need vitamin C to prevent scurvy. No, I didn’t say that vitamin C will prevent cancer, but it will prevent one disease.
The Washington Post dropped this provocative headline on its readers yesterday, “Researchers find a hint of a link between flu vaccine and miscarriage.” And you know what will happen next –every anti-vaccine website will claim that the flu vaccine causes miscarriages.
Of course, the evidence based facts fail to support the future trope that the flu vaccine causes miscarriages. A careful reading of the Washington Post article is filled with nuance and hedging, because the underlying published article does not actually provide robust evidence that any flu vaccine increases the risk of miscarriages.
The Washington Post made several points that are important to consider, and we’ll examine the underlying research in more depth. But the most important point they made is that,
The findings suggest an association, not a causal link, and the research is too weak and preliminary, experts said, to change the advice, which is based on a multitude of previous studies, that pregnant women should get a flu vaccine to protect them from influenza, a deadly disease that may cause serious birth defects and miscarriage.
This is Part 5 of a series of six articles discussing various medical uses for cannabis or marijuana. In this article, I review and summarize some of the evidence that marijuana supporters have used to claim that smoking weed during pregnancy is safe. And I look at data from high quality reviews that shows it isn’t. So let’s assess the science regarding marijuana and pregnancy.
As I have written previously, consumption of and growing marijuana should be completely decriminalized. And the laws need to be rewritten, not in the haphazard way it is now, but with protection and respect of rights of people to consume or grow (for personal use) cannabis. The criminal prosecution of marijuana use and distribution is a ridiculous waste of public resources.