If you’re expecting, be sure you’re first in line to get a flu shot this year. The flu vaccine been recommended for pregnant women for years, so why the added urgency this flu season? Last year’s H1N1 outbreak brought to light how hard the flu can hit pregnant women, and new research indicates that immunity is passed down to your baby. In fact, ten leading health organizations, including the March of Dimes, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), have co-signed a letter urging healthcare providers to recommend the flu shot to pregnant women and those trying to conceive.
Although the flu is generally considered a harmless bug that everyone gets, complications can arise, and when they do, they can be especially devastating to pregnant women and their babies. Also, pregnancy can compromise the immune system -- pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized for flu complications than their non-pregnant counterparts – so when the flu hits, they can get really sick. In fact, during last year’s H1N1 outbreak, a disproportionate number of pregnant women died from the illness. Fortunately, this year’s flu vaccine will protect against the swine flu as well as seasonal flu.
Extra added bonus: when you get the shot, you pass down some immunity to your baby, helping protect him after he’s born and until he’s old enough for a flu shot himself. In face, new research released this week says that newborns whose moms got a flu shot while pregnant are less likely to get the flu or to hospitalized with respiratory illness during the first six months of life.