Flu shots in pregnancy help newborns

When pregnant women receive an influenza vaccination they might be providing protection that extends to their babies after they are born, researchers found in a recent study

The study of over 1,500 hospitalized infants published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers surveyed hospitalizations in three geographic areas for seven successive flu seasons from 2002 through 2009.

They found that infants of mothers who had had the flu vaccine were about 45 percent less likely to have influenza during their first flu season than those of unvaccinated mothers.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends influenza vaccination for everybody 6 months and older, but singles out specific target groups, including pregnant women, who have a greater risk of flu-related complications.

Vaccination is primarily recommended to protect the woman, but there is some evidence from previous studies that it can also protect the unborn child.

“Given that infants less than 6 months of age have the highest hospitalization rate among all children and that the vaccine is not licensed for that age group, these data support that infants born to vaccinated mothers benefit from the transfer of maternally derived antibodies,” the researchers wrote.

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“Our results support the current influenza vaccination recommendation for pregnant women.”

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