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Flu Shot While Pregnant Protects Infant

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Thursday, September 18, 2008 2:31 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA & Prescription Drugs, Pregnancy, Flu Season, Influenza, Drug Products, CDC, Flu Drugs


IMAGE SOURCE: iStockphoto / mom and newborn / author: iDerLander

A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests pregnant women who get a flu shot helps to prevent most cases of influenza from developing during the first six months of their babies’ lives.

“This is the first study to definitively show that – immunizing the mother protects the infant,” said Dr. Mark Steinhoff, a pediatrician with John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The study indicates that a newborn’s risk of infection can be dramatically lowered by vaccinating Mom during pregnancy. It’s a two-for-one benefit. Infants six months and younger have the highest rates of hospitalization from influenza among children in the U.S.

The study included 340 pregnant women in Bangladesh who had not received a flu shot in three or more years. Researchers found the shots lowered the risk of influenza by 63 percent and the overall risk of respiratory illness by 29 percent.

There were six confirmed cases of the flu in the vaccinated group, compared to 16 among the mothers who had been given a different vaccine.

Doctors have long known that immunizing a pregnant woman would also help to protect her newborn baby, so researchers felt there was significant reasoning to believe the flu vaccine would work the same way, said Steinhoff. “We’ve always theorized it, but until now nobody has done the study,” he said.

Since 1997, the CDC has been recommending pregnant women get a flu shot, but the advice has been widely ignored, he said.

“The new study may help convince more mothers to say, “Hey, it helps me and it helps my baby too,” Steinhoff said.

Currently, an estimated 15 percent of pregnant women in the United States receive the vaccine every year.

For the Bangladesh study, the vaccinations were given during the third trimester because in 2004 and 2005, “at the time the study was done, that was the general recommendation,” he said.

Pregnant women are encouraged to get the vaccine during the flu season. Health officials note it takes about a month for the protection to build in the baby.

The study, “Effectiveness of Maternal Influenza Immunization in Mothers and Infants,” is published in the New England Journal of Medicine September 18 edition. #

1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, September 18, 2008 11:12 PM EST

* Editors Note- Injuryboard wants to remind pregnant women that they are potentially exposing their infant to thimerosal if they receive a flu shot. There are some formulations without the mercury based preservative, which may also not be in single-dose vials.

You can check the CDC for more.


Comments for this article are closed.

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