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Flu Vaccine Safe Throughout Pregnancy

Studies Also Show Vaccinated Moms Less Likely to Have Small or Premature Babies

Vaccine Safe in Pregnancy continued...

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.

The analysis also shows no association between the vaccine preservative thimerosal and adverse outcomes in infants. Because thimerosal contains a kind of mercury -- and because mercury can be highly toxic -- there is a belief among some parents of autistic children that thimerosal caused their children's disease.

No such link exists, says Paul Offit, MD, of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He was not involved with the work. But if a pregnant woman has concerns, she can just ask for single-dose flu vaccine, which has no thimerosal, he tells WebMD.

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