Flu Vaccine Safe Throughout Pregnancy
Studies Also Show Vaccinated Moms Less Likely to Have Small or Premature Babies
Vaccination and Premature Babies
A second study, led by Saad Omer, MD, PhD, of Emory University in Atlanta,
showed that vaccination in pregnancy lowers the chance of having a low birth
weight or premature baby.
Omer and colleagues looked at the medical records of more than 6,400
babies in Georgia from June 2004 through September 2006. About 15% of their
moms got a flu shot during pregnancy. Results showed that during periods of
widespread flu activity, vaccinated women were 60%-70% less likely to have an
infant small for his or her gestational age or have a premature baby.
In a third study, vaccinated mothers in Bangladesh gave birth to babies who
were 1.5 pounds heavier, on average, than those born to unvaccinated women.
Previous findings from the study showed that infants born to vaccinated
women were 63% less likely to get the flu and 29% less likely to have a
respiratory ailment accompanied by fever. The vaccinated moms were also less
likely to get sick themselves, says researcher Mark Steinhoff, MD, of
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
"When you prevent flu in a pregnant woman, you benefit the mother, you
benefit the infant, and we think this also shows that you benefit the fetus,”
Steinhoff tells WebMD.
Vaccine Safe in Pregnancy
The experts say there a variety of reasons pregnant women don't get
vaccinated. In many cases, their ob-gyns don't offer it, Schaffner says. Also,
mothers have a long tradition of not taking anything they fear will harm their
fetus and without reassurance, they may fear the vaccine is harmful, he
Not only does the new research suggest the opposite, Schaffner says, but a
fourth study shows inactivated flu vaccine can be safely given during any
trimester of pregnancy.
Researchers reviewed 11 studies of flu vaccination during pregnancy, as well
as CDC data about disease and death from flu infection. Seven of the studies
involved women in their third trimester.
The pooled analysis, which is published online in the American Journal of
Obstetrics &amp;amp; Gynecology, notes that no study has shown an increased
risk of maternal or fetal complications associated with the inactivated flu
Also, CDC data show that in spring 2009, 32% of 34 pregnant women with
confirmed or probable cases of H1N1 had to be hospitalized, and pregnant women
accounted for 13% of all deaths from H1N1 during that time, says Omer, who
worked on the study.
During the 1918 pandemic, half of infected pregnant women developed
pneumonia, and of these, almost half died. The highest death rates were seen in
the third trimester.
One study shows that healthy pregnant women are 18 times more likely to be
hospitalized from flu than their counterparts who aren't pregnant. And pregnant
women with other medical problems are at even greater risk.