Vaccinating pregnant women year-round may cut flu in babies, finds study
Researchers say the development of a child inside the mother affects that child during its entire life, and low birth weight has lifelong health implications for a child.
Babies born to women vaccinated throughout the year against flu virus are more likely to be healthier and have reduced incidence of influenza, according to a study.
The findings, published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, showed that vaccinating pregnant mothers year-round is likely to reduce infant flu virus infection rates by an average of 30%, increase birth weights by 15% and result in babies having less influenza.
“The development of a child inside the mother affects that child during its entire life, and low birth weight has lifelong health implications for a child,” said Mark Steinhoff from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the US.
“The overall positive effect of performing these vaccinations – which is not expensive – is quite significant,” Steinhoff added.
For the study, 3,693 mothers (between the ages of 15 and 40) were recruited and randomised into two different annual research groups (or cohorts) from April 2011 through September 2013.
In cohort 1, compared to the placebo group, influenza-like illness was reduced by 9% in pre- and post-partum mothers who received vaccine. In cohort 2, flu-like illness was reduced by 36%. This placed the average flu reduction rate for both groups of vaccinated mothers at 19%.
For infants, lab-confirmed flu infections in cohort 1 decreased 16% in babies with vaccinated mothers. In cohort 2 they decreased by 60% – putting the average rate of reduction for both cohorts at 30%.
As for birth weight, flu immunisations in pregnant mothers reduced the rate of low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams/5.5 pounds) by 15% in cohort 1 and by 15% in cohort 2 (average 15% for both groups).
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