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Flu Shot in Pregnancy Protects Baby
Date:10/30/2009

Vaccinating expectant moms led to bigger, healthier infants, studies show

FRIDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant women head the list of people who should get H1N1 swine flu and seasonal flu shots, and four new studies highlight the benefits of vaccination for moms-to-be and their babies.

Bigger, healthier newborns, fewer preterm births and reduced rates of hospitalization top the findings, which are to be presented this week at the annual meeting of the Infectious Disease Society of America in Philadelphia.

In one study, U.S. researchers analyzed data on 6,410 births in Georgia and found that the risks of premature delivery and having a low birth-weight infant were significantly reduced among the 15 percent of women who received a flu shot during pregnancy.

During the height of the flu season premature births among vaccinated women fell 70 percent, compared with unvaccinated women, Dr. Saad B. Omer, an assistant professor of global health and epidemiology at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health, said during a news conference Thursday at which all four studies were discussed.

And the likelihood of having a small baby was reduced 70 percent, Omer added.

Similar positive results would likely be seen among women getting the H1N1 vaccine for swine flu, Omer said. Studies have found in previous flu pandemics that pregnant women were at risk for giving birth prematurely to underweight babies, he said.

Despite the benefits of seasonal flu vaccine, the rate of vaccination among pregnant women is "dismal," Omer said. Only about 25 percent of pregnant women are getting vaccinated, he said. He and his co-authors cited a need to publicize the benefits of vaccination in pregnancy.

In another report, Yale University School of Medicine researchers, led by Dr. Marietta Vazquez, an assistant professor of pediatrics, looked at the relationship between pregnant women who
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