Flu Shots During Pregnancy May Be Beneficial To Babies
According to a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), vaccinating pregnant women against the influenza virus appears to have a significant positive effect on birth weight in babies.
The study, part of the Mother'sGift project on the safety and effectiveness of pneumococcal and influenza vaccines in pregnant women, examined 340 healthy pregnant mothers in the third trimester in Bangladesh. The participants were divided into two groups, with 170 women receiving the influenza vaccine and the remaining 170 receiving pneumococcal vaccine as a control.
Researchers then compared the weight of babies born in two periods, one in which there was circulation of an influenza virus and one with limited circulation.
According to the researchers, when influenza viruses were circulating, vaccination of pregnant women against flu was associated with healthier babies, with women vaccinated in the third trimester less likely to have babies who were small for gestational age than those who received a pneumococcal vaccine (25.9% to 44.8% ).
Also, babies born to mothers who received the flu vaccine had a higher average birth weight (3,178 versus 2,978 grams), as well as a lower rate of respiratory illness.
"We found that immunization against influenza during pregnancy had a substantial effect on mean birth weight and the proportion of infants who were small for gestational age," writes Dr. Mark Steinhoff of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and co-author of the study. "Our data suggest that the prevention of infection with seasonal influenza in pregnant women by vaccination can influence fetal growth."
The researchers urge additional studies to support their findings, suggesting that adding an influenza vaccine to routine vaccination programs during pregnancy could help children have a better start in life.
"If our data ... are confirmed, the existence of effective antenatal immunization delivery systems suggests influenza vaccine may be a feasible addition to routine antenatal immunization programs."
I guess you could call that a shot worth taking.
Of course, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to discuss this with your Women's HealthFirst physician.
[image via Medical News Today]