Thursday, October 16, 2008

Flu Shots During Pregnancy Can Protect Your Infant

Mothers are given many pointers when trying to have healthy babies, such as eat right, reduce stress, take your vitamins, exercise etc. Now, you may want to add getting a flu shot to the list. Currently, only 12 percent of American expectant mothers get a flu shot that could possibly help to not only ward off the dangerous virus for the mother, but also for the baby.

Flu shots are not recommended for babies under six months old and antiviral drug treatments for the virus are not approved for children under a year old, which lends for the potential of babies contracting a possibly deadly virus. Recently a clinical trial conducted in Bangladesh, led by Mark C. Steinhoff, M.D., for Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, has revealed that a mother who receives a flu shot while pregnant can potentially protect their babies from the flu virus up to 6 months after their birth.

The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, involved 340 expectant mothers who had not received a flu vaccine in at least three years. Through their study, researchers determined with the flu shot, infant’s risk of contracting the virus was reduced by at least 63 percent and 29 percent reduced risk for respiratory infections. For every 16 mothers vaccinated, one case of the confirmed flu was prevented. Mothers and babies risks of respiratory disease with a fever, was reduced by a third, and the vaccination prevented respiratory disease along with fever, for every 100 expecting mothers who were vaccinated, to only 14 infants and seven mothers.

Even though the United States,Center for Disease Control recommends pregnant women receive flu shots, it seems either communication from doctors isn’t strong enough or maybe the information isn’t being communicated at all. Especially since so few pregnant women actually get a flu shot.

The study recently released was conducted from 2004 to 2005 and during that time it was recommended that mothers receive the vaccine in their third trimester, but at least four weeks before delivery. It is now being recommended that expectant mothers get their flu shot a few weeks before flu season starts. To not only protect their baby, but also help to ward off the virus for the mom.

Pregnant women get your flu shots! Dr. Steinhoff said in a news release, "Infants under six months have the highest rates of hospitalization from influenza among children in the U.S.” However, based on the new study, the odds of infants contracting the flu could be cut in more than half, with their mothers being vaccinated. Dr. Steinhoff stated, "Our study shows that a newborn's risk of infection can be greatly reduced by vaccinating Mom during pregnancy. It's a two-for-one benefit."

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