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Friday, June 24, 2011

Flu shot during pregnancy can protect baby: US study

Flu shot during pregnancy can protect baby: US study


OTTAWA — A new report suggests that pregnant women who are thinking of boycotting the flu shot should think twice.

In the June issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, a new study sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that getting your flu shot during pregnancy can protect your newborn and reduce the likelihood that your baby will catch the infectious disease.
"It's 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," said Dr. Katherine Poehling from the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Babies in the study were 48 per cent less likely to be hospitalized for the flu if their mothers were vaccinated during pregnancy versus those who were not vaccinated.

Researchers also found that infants less than six months of age have the highest rate of flu hospitalization among all children.

"We know that mothers pass on antibodies to their baby during the latter part of the pregnancy," said Poehling, explaining that babies under six months cannot be immunized.

However, one young mother doesn't think a flu shot will make much difference.

"Our bodies have a natural way of building up our immune system," said Fort McMurray, Alta., banker, Jelena Martinovic, who just gave birth seven months ago.

"I had the flu shot once when it was first introduced and I got the flu that year. Since then, I didn't get the shot and I never had the flu since," the 26-year-old said.

Dr. Susy Hota from the University Health Network in Toronto says there are lots of misconceptions about the flu vaccine during pregnancy because the old vaccine contained a live virus that was used to stimulate the vaccine.

"The current vaccines we have now contains inactivated viruses that cannot be seen in your body," said Hota, adding it's safe for women to get the flu shot at any time during the pregnancy.

"A newborn does not have a fully developed immune system and can develop lots of infections in their first month of life to the first year so it's important if mom gets vaccinated to protect herself and the baby to reduce exposure to influenza," said Hota.

Though recovery from the flu is the most common outcome, there can be some dire effects.

"You can catch bronchitis, pneumonia, middle ear infection, and if you have heart and lung problems, that can be exasperated. The worst case scenario is fetal demise," said Hota

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