Flu Vaccine Protects Pregnant Woman's Baby - Doesn't Cause Miscarriage

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by Caitlyn Stace

In the News: Flu Vaccine Protects Pregnant Woman's Baby - Doesn't Cause Miscarriage

According Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, member of the Infectious Disease Society of America's Pandemic Influenza Task Fornce, the flu vaccine doesn't raise the risk of miscarriage. It was previously thought that the vaccine was not only unsafe, but could cause undesirable effects. This new finding at the task force's 49th annual meeting shows that the pregnant mothers that are out there are learning that the shot is not only important to their babies, but safe as well.

If the mom doesn't get the flu vaccination, it leaves the newborn vulnerable to the disease because they do not have the protective immunity passed on through the mother. Newborns cannot be vaccinated for the flu for at least six months after birth. It goes without saying that a newborn who becomes infected with the flu is at a higher risk of complications and even death compared to their grandparents.

Dr. Neuzil, MD says, "Pregnant women are understandably concerend about protecting their unborn babies, which makes it all the more imporatnt for them to understand that getting a flue shot during pregnancy is an important way to protect the baby, as well as themselves...new data on the safety and effectiveness of these vacines is reassuring, and the increasing number of pregnant women receivng the vaccine affirms that women are heaing the messages..."

How Does the Shot Protect Newborns?

When the mother vaccinates herself, the benefits pass onto the unborn child during her pregnancy. Mom also happens to pass on the antibodies from the shot - making the baby, once born, immune to the disease for the first four months according to the studies at the University of Utah.

The study consisted of 27 women. 41% of them had been given the seasonal flue shot and 59% had not. They confirmed with blood tests that right after birth, all the babies born to the vaccinated moms had the necessary antibodies to fight the flu compared to 31% of the babies born to the moms who didn't get the shot. When they remeasured at two months, 60% of the babies whose moms vaccinagted still had antibodies compared to the 0% of the moms who didn't. The lead author of the study is Julie H. Shakib, DO, MPH, assitant professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. She says that her research suggests that mothers who do vaccinate provide their unborn children protection from the flue. She believes that all pregnant women should receive the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to protect themselves and their babies.

Is There Really No Increase of Miscarriage Risk?

A large study found no association between getting the flu shot during pregnant and the risk of miscarriage. This information came from a sstudy at Wisconsin's Marshfield Clinic. They compared 243 pregnant women who had a miscarriages with 243 who did not. They all received their care from a single care organization.

They concluded that there is no increased risk of having the shot during the fourt weeks before the miscarriage, compared to those who had no miscarraige. 38 of the women who did, received the flu shots compared to 31 who had not miscarried. The researchers claim that this is not "a statistically significant difference."

"Safety concerns are one of the top reasons pregnant women provide for abstaining from getting the influenza vaccine. Our findings should help pregnant women feel more comfortable about getting vaccinated." ~Stephanie A. Irving, MS, epidemiologist at the Marshfield Clinic Reaserch Foundation

Although the message is still trying to get out to pregnant women, with 55% of pregnant women getting vaccinated in 2010, there is still a lot of room for progress says Marci L. Drees, MD, hospital epidemiologist at Christiana Health Care. She believes that OBs should encourage their patients to get the vaccine and have it available - and that will make a world of difference.

Tell us what you think in the comments! Did you get vaccinated?

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