HealthDay News — Pregnant women who receive influenza vaccination may be protecting their infants as well as themselves against the virus, according to a new report published online May 3 in Pediatrics.
Researchers reviewed 245,386 health records of pregnant women and 249,387 infant records. Information was available for nine flu seasons from December 2005 through March 2014. Only about 10 percent of these women reported being vaccinated while pregnant.
The researchers found that 97% of confirmed flu cases were among infants whose mothers hadn’t been immunized during pregnancy. Infants 6 months and younger whose mothers had an influenza vaccine during pregnancy were 70% less likely to have lab-confirmed influenza than infants born to mothers who didn’t have the immunization while pregnant. In addition, the babies born to mothers immunized during pregnancy had an 80 percent reduction in flu-related hospitalizations.
“Children younger than 6 months are too young to be vaccinated,” lead author Julie Shakib, DO, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, told HealthDay. “The best way to protect infants younger than 6 months is to make sure everyone around them is vaccinated. Immunizing pregnant women provides immunity to the baby through the placenta. Immunizing others who live with or care for the baby prevents them from getting the flu and passing it to the baby.”