A Shot in the Dark: Researchers Advise Flu Vaccine for Unborn Babies

Filed under: In The News, Pregnancy Health, Research Reveals


flu vaccine picture

Pregnant? Get your flu shot. Credit: Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images


Does the sight of a needle make your child scream like a sorority sister in a Wes Craven movie?

Even newborns do their share of caterwauling when they meet Mr. Syringe for the first time. You can avoid at least one of those dramatic moments by giving your children their first flu shots while they're still in the womb.

Less crying that way.

And doctors say you should vaccinate your children against the flu while you're still pregnant, anyway. A three-year study by researchers at Yale University concludes that getting a flu shot when you're pregnant is 90 percent effective in preventing the flu in infants less than 6 months old.

A press release posted on Medical News Today says this is a particularly good practice, as there is no flu vaccine approved for children that young.

Yet vaccines have long been recommended for pregnant women and older newborns. This new study just supplies some data to back that up. Published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the study adds to research presented last year to the Infectious Disease Society of America in Philadelphia.

The flu is a major cause of newborns ending up in the hospital. However, with no vaccines approved for children under 6 months old, about all doctors can do is try to keep them away from people who might give them the virus.

Marietta Vazquez, the senior author of the study, says in the press release that this study gives parents and physicians a more pro-active alternative.

"When we compared vaccination rates during pregnancy in the study, we found that in the group of infants who didn't have influenza, far more mothers received the influenza vaccine," says Vazquez, an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Yale. "In the group of infants studied, giving the vaccine to a woman during pregnancy was 91.5 percent effective in preventing hospitalization due to influenza."

Plus, she says, the vaccine is a real bargain. You are vaccinating two people for the price of one.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.