Researcher in Developmental & Behavioral Neuroanatomy
September 07, 2009
Introduction: An increasing body of peer-reviewed evidence indicates that when a woman is pregnant, transiently elevated cytokines can induce atypical brain development in her embryo or fetus. Illnesses and vaccinations induce elevation of cytokines, and these elevations can be heightened in individuals with alleles of genes related to immune responses. An implication of citations supporting these relationships is that vaccinating pregnant women is likely to induce cognitive and behavioral pathologies in as least some children whose mothers were vaccinated while the child was in utero. Schizophrenia and developmental disabilities are pathologies that may ensue.
Stacy Bilbo & Jaclyn Schwarz have written an important review, “Early-life programming of later-life brain and behavior: a critical role for the immune system”.
The peer-reviewed paper is free online (1) and is especially relevant amid recommendations that pregnant women be vaccinated for seasonal influenza and for lab-related H1N1 swine flu. Evidence discussed by Bilbo & Schwarz prompts a question: Will vaccinating pregnant women induce cytokine elevations likely to damage the embryonic or fetal brain of at least some women?
Published studies indicate that (i) transiently elevated cytokines can alter brain development in utero, and (ii) illnesses and vaccinations cause elevated levels of various cytokines. These two factors indicate that at least some women will have children who develop untoward traits induced in utero as a result of their mother’s having been vaccinated during pregnancy.
Because cytokines are complex (2), only two will be considered here, interleukin-6 and interleukin-1beta (IL-6, IL-1b).
Interleukin-6 and interleukin-1beta are among the cytokines elevated by influenza vaccination (3-6). These elevations parallel those induced by influenza itself.
Current recommendations for a seasonal-influenza vaccination accompanied by one or two swine flu (H1N1) vaccinations need be considered in regard to the following: “There are several reports in humans that influenza infection induces cytokine production by the maternal immune system, the fetal immune system, and the placenta…, and each has been linked to increased risk of schizophrenia in the offspring…” (1, citing 7-9; see also 10).
In addition to increased risk for schizophrenia, maternal cytokines (especially IL-1b) induced by vaccinating pregnant women may alter the subsequent child’s cognitive skills related to memory (reviewed in 1). As one researcher summarizes, “Prenatal exposure to infection appears to increase the risk of schizophrenia and other neurodevelopmental disorders.” (8)
Clarification: This essay is not asserting that ALL pregnant women who receive injections of anti-influenza vaccine and/or injections of anti-H1N1 vaccine (many brands of which will contain thimerosal and/or squalene) will give birth to a child who later develops schizophrenia or a developmental disorder. Instead, the evidence cited in this essay indicates that, among women who receive one or more vaccinations during pregnancy and thereby experience cytokines elevations that affect her fetus, there will be an increased risk for having a child who, some years later, will develop schizophrenia or a developmental disability.
A pregnant woman’s options are discomforting. If she develops swine flu or seasonal influenza, she may induce cytokine elevations which adversely affect her fetus. If she allows herself to be vaccinated during pregnancy, her body’s reaction will include cytokine elevations which may adversely affect brain development of some fetuses – and do in ways that become apparent only during early childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood (reviewed in 1).
For individuals with a technical bent, the Bilbo and Schwarz review is recommended (1). In short, it summarizes known effects of maternal elevations of interleukin-6 and interleukin-1beta. Additionally, the review elaborates increasing evidence supporting the “two hit” hypothesis, wherein an in utero event such as transiently elevated cytokines induces fetal changes which potentiate more serious sequelae pursuant to postnatal events in the offspring (eg, illness).
Media reports tell us that the safety of swine flu vaccinations will be evaluated. However, some reports have mentioned that thimerosal or squalene may not be present in the vaccines tested early, thus raising questions about “safety” pronouncements we’ll be hearing. Furthermore, if the influenza or swine flu vaccinations’ adverse events include developmental disabilities and schizophrenia, which will occur some years after the vaccinating of pregnant women, the monitoring of those adverse events will be impossible in the months ahead.
More generally, we ask if vaccinologists are prone to hubris? Their willingness to inject thimerosal and squalene (MF59) despite voluminous evidence of harm caused by those substances appalls. An autism parent raises an important issue (11), are many and perhaps most vaccinologists rushing forth while ignoring advances in immunology, while ignoring findings which indicate why some individuals are more likely to experience adverse effects from vaccinations, especially during pregnancy?
Postscript: This essay calls attention to adverse effects induced by cytokines elevated by vaccinations and only briefly mentions adverse effects induced by thimerosal (12) and by squalene (13). Not considered is the additive or synergistic effects of the three components: cytokine elevations, squalene, and thimerosal.