Infants of influenza-vaccinated mothers less likely to be infected

New research shows that infants born to mothers vaccinated against influenza during pregnancy are 45 to 48 percent less likely to be hospitalized because of the illness than those born to unvaccinated mothers.

The study, conducted by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the first population-based, laboratory-confirmed study to prove the benefits of prenatal influenza vaccination, according to

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices currently recommends the flu vaccine for anyone over the age of six months. In addition, the ACIP singles out certain groups, including pregnant mothers, for flu vaccination because they are at an increased risk for flu-related complications.

“It is recommended that all pregnant women receive the influenza vaccine during pregnancy because it is known that pregnant women have increased morbidity and mortality during pregnancy and in the immediate postpartum period if they get the flu,” Dr. Katherine A. Poehling, the lead author of the study, said, reports. “We also know that mothers pass antibodies through the placenta to the baby. This study showed us that receiving the influenza vaccine during pregnancy not only protects the mother, but also protects the baby in the early months of life."

The flu vaccine is not licensed for, or effective in, children less than six months of age, but infants that young have the highest rates of flu hospitalization among all children.

Poehling and her colleagues, whose work appears in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, sought to discover whether administering the vaccine during pregnancy would offer any protection to newborns.

“Similar findings have been published from other studies, but they’ve been published in general journals or journals about pediatrics and infectious diseases,” Poehling said, according to “Where the information is published really does make a difference because pediatricians need to know about it, but it’s even more important that the doctors taking care of pregnant women – obstetricians and gynecologists – know it, too."