Babies less likely to get flu if mom is vaccinated
A new study says babies are much less likely to get the flu if their moms are vaccinated during pregnancy.
A large study of nearly 500,000 moms and babies shows that moms who got a flu shot while pregnant helped their babies stay healthier. That’s big news, since newborns under 6 months old are at the highest risk of getting the flu, which can be dangerous or even deadly.
Luke Mallin may be protected against getting the flu for up to six months because his mom got a flu shot while she was pregnant.
“He’s only 2 months old, so knowing that he’s going to be protected while under the age of 6 months when he can’t get the vaccine himself makes me feel very good,” said Brittany Mallin, Luke's mom.
“There was a 70 percent reduction in lab-confirmed influenza if a mom reported she received the vaccine during pregnancy,” explained Julie Shakib, DO, MS, MPH, Medical Director of Well Baby Nursery at the University of Utah.
Shakib studied health records of 245,000 pregnant women over nine years. She found that babies of women who got flu shots had a 70 percent reduction in getting the flu and an 80 percent reduction in flu-related hospitalizations in their first six months. About 97 percent of baby flu cases in the study were born to moms who didn’t get the vaccine during pregnancy.
“Instead of causing harm, this actually causes true benefit for the baby, and that is really what we want moms to take away from the study,” said Shakib.
Brittany knows some people are against vaccines.
“I know there’s some scary research out there that has been discredited that can make people believe that vaccines are scary, but I don’t think they are,” she explained.
She says helping Luke avoid the flu just by her getting a shot is worth it.
Shakib is now trying to find out if breast-feeding increases flu vaccine protection for infants.
TOPIC: Vaccinate Mom to Protect Baby?
REPORT: MB #4137
BACKGROUND: When pregnant women are vaccinated, the baby receives immunity from his mother. Some vaccines, such as the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, should be given a month or more before pregnancy to prevent serious birth defects or a miscarriage. Other vaccines, like the whooping cough vaccine Tdap, are beneficial to receive during pregnancy. It is safe for a woman to receive vaccines before, during, and after pregnancy. The CDC provides the guidelines for what vaccines are recommended and when they are recommended to be administered. Your doctor may recommend a variety of different vaccines to administer based upon your vaccination and health history.
THE CONTROVERSY: Ninety-five percent of children entering kindergarten have had vaccines for preventable diseases, however, that figure is not spread evenly across the country. States have varying laws over which vaccination exemptions are allowed. Unvaccinated children may not only contract a preventable illness, but they may spread it to vulnerable children who may not be vaccinated due to health risks. Among those who are hesitant to receive vaccinations, 63 percent fear their children could have serious side effects. 55 percent of women report any whooping cough vaccination around the time of pregnancy, with an estimate of only 10 percent receiving the vaccination during pregnancy in 2011. Only 10 percent of pregnant moms receive a flu vaccination. Many believe that receiving vaccinations during pregnancy may harm the child, but they must also take into account the risks of an infant contracting a preventable illness like whooping cough or the flu, which may lead to serious life-threatening complications.
(Sources: http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/03/health/the-unvaccinated/, http://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/partners/flu-pregnancy-infographic.pdf, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6419a4.htm)
NEW SUPPORT: A new study published in May 2016 shows that receiving a flu vaccination while pregnant significantly reduces the risk of acquiring influenza during a baby’s first six months of life. The authors of the study have declared that the need for getting more pregnant women immunized is a public health priority. The study conducted at the University of Utah School of Medicine reported that infants and mothers who were vaccinated had a 70 percent reduction in laboratory-confirmed flu cases and an 80% reduction in flu-related hospitalizations compared with babies whose moms were not immunized. Pregnant women and young infants are among those at highest risk of dying from the flu. Although the vaccination rate among pregnant women has increased since the H1N1 pandemic, it is still not high enough, according to authors of the study. Not receiving the flu shot increases risk for severe illnesses from influenza for both the mother and the baby. Complications of the flu during pregnancy include premature labor, babies that are too small for gestational age, hospitalization, and death. Pregnant women can receive the flu shot at any time, during any trimester.