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.
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.
Previously: Why it's (still) important for pregnant women to get H1N1 vaccine, H1N1 has peaked but will it return? and H1N1 flu tips for pregnant women and new moms
Via Medical News Today
Photo by Daniel Paquet