You’re pregnant.  You’re concerned with pretty much everything you do and how it may help or harm your baby (or at least you should be..).  So, of course, you value your doctor’s opinion on what is safe or not.

Interestingly, while volunteering at the Komen 3-day in the medical tent, I worked on a pregnant woman who was experiencing gestational diabetes.  When I queeried why she was sporting a Diet Coke when she was a. pregnant and b. experiencing GDM, she explained that her OB did not want her using stevia, but diet Coke was ok because Nutrisweet doesn’t cross the placenta.  Huh?

First of all, it doesn’t have to cross the placenta to wreak havoc on mom’s physiology and, in turn, her developing baby.  Second, I may have missed it, but I don’t think there’s ever been a study on whether Nutrisweet crosses the placenta, let alone a study that suggests that stevia is harmful during pregnancy.  Worse, she was on metformin and her doctor was going to increase the dosage further to control the blood sugar (that was probably being thrown off by the diet Coke…).

Anyway…the bottom line is that sometimes I think many doctors don’t read beyond the headline or the conclusion of a medical study.  If, of course, they are reading them at all.  Worst case scenario, the doctor is spoon fed information by the reps that have an obvious bias towards their product.

So what does all this rambling have to do with this particular study on the H1N1 vaccination during pregnancy?

If you happen to be under the care of a “conclusion reading” doctor, you would be guided by the conclusion of this article…”Review of reports to VAERS following H1N1 vaccination in pregnant women did not identify any concerning patterns of maternal or fetal outcomes.”

Doesn’t sound too threaten, right?  Here’s the actual findings from the study based on adverse effects reported to the Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System for the 2009 H1N1 vaccination:

  •  294 reports of adverse events
  • 2 maternal deaths
  • 59 hospitalizations
  • 95 spontaneous abortions
  • 18 stillbirths
  • 7 preterm deliveries
  • 3 threatened abortions
  • 2 preterm labors
  • 2 preeclampsia
  • 3 cases of additional fetal problems

Now, this kind of study says nothing about the actual incidence of how often this happened.  But certainly, these findings do not match up with the conclusions from anything but a sterile reporting style.  So yes–there WERE no strong patterns seen.  This may have been true.  But, try explaining this to one of the women on this list.  They would tend to disagree.

So, the bottom line is that you need to make sure that your doctor not only stays current with the medical literature, but that he or she goes beyond the title or the conclusion to read more into the study for a better picture.  If they’re not, maybe it’s time to find a new one who does…


For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.