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Flu Shots for Pregnant Women Also Protect Newborns
Date:10/20/2011

THURSDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Getting a seasonal flu vaccination while pregnant protects newborns from the flu for months after birth and won't cause a miscarriage.

So say studies scheduled to be presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), in Boston.

"Pregnant women are understandably concerned about protecting their unborn babies, which makes it all the more important for them to understand that getting a flu shot during pregnancy is an important way to protect the baby, as well as themselves," Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, a member of IDSA's Pandemic Influenza Task Force and a clinical professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Washington, Seattle, said in a society news release.

"These new data on the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines is reassuring, and the increasing number of pregnant women receiving the vaccine affirms that women are hearing the message about the vaccine's benefits," she added.

Newborns enter the world without protective immunity and can't get the flu vaccine until they are six months old, which makes them particularly vulnerable to the flu. Infants who get the flu can become severely ill, require hospitalization and even die, according to IDSA.

A small University of Utah study found that pregnant women who receive a flu vaccination pass their flu immunity to their babies in the form of flu antibodies. This protection lasts for a few months after birth.

The researchers found flu antibody protection in all the babies born to 11 pregnant women who received seasonal flu vaccine, compared to 31 percent of babies born to 16 women who did not get the flu vaccine.

Among the babies born to immunized women, antibody protection was still present in 60 percent when they were two months old and in 11 percent when they were four months old. None of the babies born to non-immunized women had antibody protection at tw
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