Flu Vaccines Protect Babies

After this year’s American devastating flu epidemic this news should be especially interesting to pregnant women, women planning to conceive and their doctors: A new study out of Norway suggests that two groups especially vulnerable to flu exposure—namely pregnant women and babies in the womb– truly benefit from being vaccinated.

Many people get nervous about taking preventative vaccines for diseases and viral illnesses such as the flu, because they worry about exposure to the small amounts of virus contained in the shots intended to build protective immunities.

But researchers funded by the Norwegian institute for Public Health found in a comprehensive study of pregnant women in their second and third trimesters that mother’s receiving the flu vaccination did not have higher rates of infant mortality and there was some evidence that receiving the vaccine may have improved the infant’s odds of survival.

The study, reported in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, involved a comprehensive look at expectant Norwegian mothers during a 2009 flu pandemic.