SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

Influenza vaccine could reduce risk of stillbirths

Vaccinated mothers had an adjusted risk of stillbirth 51 percent lower than those who were not vaccinated. | File photo
Mothers who receive seasonal influenza vaccinations may have a reduced chance of stillbirth according to a new study of midwife records for just over 58,000 births in Western Australia.

Of the births, which occurred between April 2012 and December 2013, 52,932 mothers did not receive a vaccination compared to 5,706 mothers who did. Researchers found that vaccinated mothers had an adjusted risk of stillbirth 51 percent lower than those who were not vaccinated.

"During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, we saw a similar reduction in stillbirths following vaccination," study author Annette Regan, from the Western Australia Department of Health, said. "Our results are particularly exciting since they show we can get the same protection during seasonal epidemics, which occur every winter. Unfortunately, we know that about 40 percent of pregnant women go unvaccinated, missing out on these benefits."

The results are consistent with a Swiss study published in 2000. Pregnant women are at an increased risk of serious complications related to influenza, and influenza infection during pregnancy has been linked to fetal mortality and premature births. With more than 3 million stillbirths recorded internationally each year, the study could have profound effects on infant mortality by starting the process of linking influenza season, vaccinations and stillbirths.

"I'm hoping results like these can convince more pregnant women to get vaccinated each year," Regan said.

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