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Flu Vaccine during Pregnancy Protects Infants up to Six Months

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
vaccine during pregnancy

Pregnant mothers who take a flu shot during pregnancy could also be protecting their baby from respiratory infection for up to six months. Findings from researchers suggest influenza vaccine not only protects pregnant women, but it also seems to protect infants from flu and hospitalization from respiratory illness.

The benefits found for babies from maternal flu vaccine comes from a non-randomized observational cohort study on Navajo and White Mountain Apache Indian reservations and included a group of 1,169 women who delivered babies during one of three influenza seasons. The researchers chose the Native American populations where rates of respiratory infection among children are higher compared to the general population.

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The study revealed a 41 percent reduced chance of laboratory confirmed flu and respiratory infection among baby's whose mothers received influenza vaccine. There was also a 39 percent lower chance of hospitalization for influenza type illness. Prior to the analysis,1,160 mother/infants gave blood samples that were analyzed for the presence of flu antibody.

Vaccine Given to Pregnant Women Protects Infants at Highest Risk

The study authors say the flu vaccine given to pregnant women protects newborns when they're most vulnerable, during "the period when infants are not eligible for influenza vaccination but are at highest risk of severe influenza illness."

The researchers also note the study findings are important given the magnitude of hospitalization rates during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu season that also impacted pregnant women. Flu vaccine, conclude the scientists, "has the added benefit of protecting infants from influenza virus infection up to six months."

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. Published online October 4, 2010. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.192