Flu vaccine for pregnant women can protect babies

According to a study published on October 4, pregnant women who are vaccinated against influenza provide some protection to their babies.

Babies under the age of six months already receive some protection from the flu that is passed on with their mother’s antibodies. This naturally immunity, however, is far from total, and pregnant women are advised to get an annual flu shot regardless, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Researchers said in the study that the babies of mothers who were vaccinated while pregnant had a 41 percent lower chance of contracting the flu and a 39 percent lower chance of becoming hospitalized because of it, compared with the babies of mothers who were not vaccinated.

Due to safety concerns, babies under the age of six months are not given the vaccine, so vaccinating the mother while she is pregnant is the most effective way to prevent influenza, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Pregnant women are advised to use the flu shot as a means of protecting themselves. Complications from the flu during pregnancy can be life-threatening, especially in late pregnancy.

The authors of an editorial that accompanied the study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine say that immunization rates among pregnant women are currently dangerously low.

"Maternal influenza vaccination targets two high-risk groups with one vaccine dose - we can't afford not to act," the authors wrote, according to the Los Angeles Times.