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Mom's Flu Shot May Protect Baby After Birth
Date:10/5/2010

the Navajo or White Mountain Apache Indian reservations. O'Brien said people living in these areas have a higher risk of respiratory illness during influenza season than residents of other areas of the country.

During the study, 49 percent of the women chose to get the influenza vaccine during the second or third trimester of pregnancy.

The researchers found a 41 percent reduction in the risk of lab-confirmed flu infection in babies whose mothers received the influenza vaccine. Babies born to mothers who received the flu immunization also had a 39 percent decreased risk of being hospitalized because of flu.

When the researchers tested blood samples from the infants, they found that babies whose moms had been vaccinated had higher levels of antibodies against the strains of flu included in the vaccines than babies whose mothers chose not to be immunized.

O'Brien said she believes these findings can be generalized to other populations. "There's no reason to believe this wouldn't be an important strategy for protecting all infants," she said.

"We already know that pregnant women are at a higher risk of morbidity from influenza, and we already know we should be vaccinating just to prevent the disease in pregnant women, but this study gives us just another reason, and another positive reason, to encourage influenza vaccinations," said Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, director of the influenza vaccine program at PATH, a global health non-profit organization. Neuzil is also the co-author of an accompanying editorial in the same issue of the journal.

"Pregnant women should get the influenza vaccine, and if they don't want to do it for themselves, here's a reason -- you can protect your unborn baby as well," said Neuzil.

More information

Learn more about flu prevention from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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