Expecting the Flu

Influenza shot benefits pregnant women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) What should a woman expect when she's expecting? Expect a flu shot. It's safe and protective for both the mom and unborn child and it only hurts for a few seconds.

Babies born to moms who had gotten an influenza shot while pregnant were half as likely to be hosptialized for the flu. Pregnant moms, who are at greater risk for flu-related complications, are being urged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to get vaccinated.

"The flu shot can protect you and your baby."

Dr. Katherine A. Poehling, M.D., an associate professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and lead study author, recommends that all women who are expecting get immunized against influenza because pregnant women have more health problems when they get the flu, including risk of death.

Dr. Poehling also says it's known that moms pass these antibodies through the placenta to the baby and guards his or her first months of life. Additionally, infants under the age of 6 months have the highest incidence of hospitalization due to the flu compared with all other age groups. The only way infants can get vaccinated is while in the womb because the flu shot isn't approved for use in children under six months of age.

This research backs up other studies whose findings make the same recommendation, but the researchers wanted it published in the journal for ob-gyns so they can get the information to moms.

Previously it had been published in pediatric journals or general journals that don't necessarily get filtered down to pregnant women. Obstetricians aren't necessarily giving the vaccine to their patients and the study authors want to encourage them to do so.

Dr. Poehling and her team analyzed data collected by the CDC over seven flu seasons between 2002 and 2009, which was prior to the H1N1 pandemic. The study included approximately 1,500 babies who had been hospitalized for flu-like symptoms within the first 6 months of life.

Infants born to women who had had the flu shot while pregnant were 45 to 48 percent less likely to be hospitalized with the flu in the first six months of life.

The study appears in the June issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 23, 2011
Last Updated:
July 8, 2011