By the World Mercury Project team
Instinctively, most of us know that pregnancy is a time when it makes sense to be cautious. After all, as even popular culture attests, “precious cargo” is involved. With medications, focus group research indicates that when the risks of a given medication are unknown, most women are not willing to take the medication during pregnancy.
To help pregnant women navigate potential risks to themselves and their “cargo,” WebMD furnishes a long checklist of substances known to cause birth defects, including acne drugs, some antidepressants and heavy metals such as lead and organic mercury. However, when it comes to flu shots (some of which contain organic mercury), the website tells women that the vaccines are completely safe any time during pregnancy. The website’s certitude in this regard rests on the assurances of entities like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has long recommended influenza vaccines for pregnant women. CDC’s rationale is that the vaccines are needed to help pregnant women avoid the “excess” influenza-related deaths that apparently occurred during early-20th-century influenza pandemics.