Health Team

Pregnant women participate in H1N1 vaccine trial

Posted September 23, 2009

— Though the H1N1 flu vaccine isn't ready for public distribution, some women have enrolled in a trial of the vaccine at Duke University Medical Center's prenatal care clinic.

Twenty pregnant women are participating in the safety trial for the vaccine. Duke is among six trial sites across the country.

The vaccine won't be available to the general public until mid-October, which is not soon enough for study participant Brianne Buchanan.

Pregnant women participate in H1N1 vaccine trial Pregnant women get H1N1 drug trial

“That would only be two weeks before my due date, so I’d much rather have protection now,” Buchanan said.

Duke obstetrician Dr. Geeta Swamy said pregnant women are more vulnerable to complications of H1N1, also known as swine flu, and not just from the typical symptoms like fever, cough and gastrointestinal problems.

“The significant complications seem to be related to pneumonia, in particular,” Swamy said.

Study participants get two test doses about three weeks apart to determine the best dosing amount for pregnant women.

“There's also a few blood samples taken at each of those visits so we can actually measure the body's immune response to the vaccine,” Swamy said.

With H1N1 flu already a pandemic – hundreds of people across North Carolina have contracted the illness – many pregnant women are more concerned about catching it than they are about the risks of taking a trial vaccine.

“Almost yearly, the flu vaccine is novel, and it's usually a guess. This one actually we know what we're targeting,” Buchanan said.

Though the trial is small, a few more women are needed. All participants must be Duke patients because they're also collecting cord blood to see if there's an immune response that reaches the fetus.


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  • THE ETERNAL Sep 25, 2009

    I am glad that smart women refuse this experiment. Let's stick to lab rats.

  • lyricalsoulexperience Sep 25, 2009

    It's not much different than a pregnant woman having a regular flu shot. They are all attenuated (killed microorganisms such as virus or bacteria) vaccines. Most vaccines are not produced with the use of Thimerosal (one of the perservatives linked, but not scientifically proven to be linked to Autism...although many doctors and parents believe there is a connection) as a preservative (antifungal agent) any longer. If a pregnant woman gets H1N1, it can cause her major complications which in turn affect the unborn child and could even lead to pre-term labor. So, I guess it's all about choice. Do you research and make an informed decision.

  • Tired of thoughtlessness Sep 25, 2009

    No one said anything about testing. But these vaccines still have additives and preservatives known to cause birth defects and developmental issues with children.

  • scientistjo Sep 24, 2009

    They're not testing if it is going to kill your unborn child, they're testing vaccine dosing to determine adequate protection. And, as mwilliams said, this is not an unknown vaccine any more than the yearly flu vaccine is unknown. It's made the exact same way, except with the H1N1 virus!

  • mwilliams2 Sep 24, 2009

    It's only as "unknown" as the seasonal flu vaccine is every year. And the seasonal flu vaccine is given to pregnant women every fall.

    Oh and CNN is reporting that hand washing does not in fact do much at all to prevent you from getting H1N1 (or any other flu). It does help from picking up other respiratory viruses like colds, but not a whole lot of help against flu.

  • scarletindurham Sep 24, 2009

    These women are crazy! How low do you have to be to be a lab rat for an unknown vaccine while pregnant? No amount of compensation would be worth that risk.

  • Tired of thoughtlessness Sep 24, 2009

    I will not be subjecting my unborn child to "testing" of vaccines.