By now you’re probably familiar with the recommendation that pregnant women get their flu shots—but a recent study in the American Journal of Public Health found that in addition to offering protection from the flu, the vaccine may also lower the risk of premature births, underweight babies and stillbirths, reports the Vancouver Sun.
The study looked at the records of 55,570 Ontario moms, 42 percent (23,340 mamas) of whom received the flu shot during pregnancy between November 2009 and April 2010, during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. After adjusting for factors like age, education and income levels as well as chronic illnesses, the researchers found that vaccination provided a 34 percent decrease in the risk for stillbirths, a 19 percent decrease in the risk for underweight babies, and a 28 percent decrease in the risk for births prior to 32 weeks.
"The findings of this study are very helpful," says study co-author Dr. Mark Walker, an obstetrician. "Pregnant women are generally very, very careful about what they put into their bodies. For healthcare providers like me, such a large-scale study that shows no adverse perinatal outcomes resulting from the H1N1 flu vaccine will be extremely helpful when discussing maternal vaccination."
Until now, so few pregnant mothers have chosen to receive the seasonal flu vaccine that it wasn’t possible to get a sample size large enough for a study like this. But, because expectant mothers were so susceptible to H1N1, a much larger percentage of pregnant women chose to receive the vaccination during that period.
Did you ever get a flu shot during pregnancy? Would these findings convince you to do so?