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Home » News

Flu shots for moms may help prevent babies from being born too small

Article / Review by on February 23, 2012 – 11:23 pmNo Comments

Flu shots for moms may help prevent babies from being born too small

Yet another reason for moms-to-be to get a flu shot: According to a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, vaccinating women against influenza appears to have a positive effect on babies’ birth weight. Low birthweight is a concern, of course, because it puts newborns at an increased risk for health problems.

Flu shots for moms may help prevent babies from being born too small

In the study, researchers took 340 healthy pregnant women in Bangledesh – all in their third trimester – and divided them into two groups: One received an influenza vaccine, and the other received the pneumococcal vaccine as a control. They then compared the weight of babies born during the flu season and when the virus wasn’t circulating. According to the journal’s release:

The researchers found that there were fewer babies who were small for their gestational age born to mothers in the influenza vaccine group when the virus was circulating, with 25.9% who were small compared with 44.8% in the control group. When the virus was dormant, the proportion of small-for-gestational-age births was similar in both groups. During the period with circulating influenza virus, the mean birth weight was 3178 g in the influenza vaccine group and 7% higher than 2978 g in the control group. The rate of premature births was lower in the influenza vaccine group as well.

“We found that immunization against influenza during pregnancy had a substantial effect on mean birth weight and the proportion of infants who were small for gestational age,” writes Dr. Mark Steinhoff, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, with coauthors. “Our data suggest that the prevention of infection with seasonal influenza in pregnant women by vaccination can influence fetal growth,” state the authors.

By Margarita Gallardo
Stanford University Medical Center

Photo by Daniel Paquet

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* Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions – Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

**  The above story is adapted from materials provided by Stanford University School of Medicine

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