Receiving seasonal flu vaccine during pregnancy builds immunity in both mother and baby without increasing the risk of developing miscarriage.
Based on new findings, health experts suggest pregnant women receive flu vaccine shots during pregnancy not only for protecting themselves but also immunizing their baby for the early months after birth.
“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,” said 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.
Becoming infected with flu virus may lead to severe and even deadly complications in newborn babies because their body and immune system does not have enough strength to tackle the disease.
The University of Utah researchers have found that pregnant women pass anti-flu antibodies that have been developed in their body to the baby they carry in the womb. The temporary immunity may benefit the babies very much after birth because they cannot receive flu vaccine for the first six months of their life.
The study including 27 women showed that all the babies born to vaccinated mothers had antibodies against flu compared to just 31 percent of those born to women who didn't get a flu vaccine shot.
Reportedly, two months after birth, 60 percent of babies born to vaccinated mothers had antibodies compared to none of their peers whose mothers were not vaccinated. At four months 11 percent of the babies born to vaccinated mothers had antibodies.
“Our research suggests that maternal vaccination does provide some protection from the flu for a few months after birth,” said senior researcher Julie H. Shakib.
“Pregnant women should receive the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to protect themselves as well as their babies.”
Another study carried out by researchers from Wisconsin's Marshfield Clinic on 243 pregnant women showed no association between receiving flu vaccine in pregnancy and a higher risk of miscarriage.
“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,” noted lead author Stephanie A. Irving.
The studies were presented at the 49th Annual Meeting of the Infectious Disease Society of America's Pandemic Influenza Task Force.