Mother's flu shot protects newborns

September 17, 2008

Newborns can be protected from seasonal flu when their mothers are vaccinated during pregnancy, according to a study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The researchers observed a 63 percent reduction in proven influenza illness among infants born to vaccinated mothers while the number of serious respiratory illnesses to both mothers and infants dropped by 36 percent.

The study is the first to demonstrate that the inactivated influenza vaccine provides protection to both mother and newborn. The findings were presented during the National Vaccine Advisory Committee meeting in Washington, D.C. on September 17 and will be published in the October 9 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The inactivated influenza vaccine (the flu shot) is not licensed for infants younger than six months. The alternative nasal flu vaccine is not available for children under age 2. The flu shot has been recommended for pregnant women in the U.S. since 1997, although approximately 15 percent of pregnant women are vaccinated each year.

"Even though there is no flu vaccine for these children, our study shows that a newborn's risk of infection can be greatly reduced by vaccinating mom during pregnancy. It's a two for one benefit," said Mark Steinhoff, MD, the study's senior author and professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of International Health. "Infants under six months have the highest rates of hospitalization from influenza among children in the U.S. These admission rates are higher than those for the elderly and other high-risk adult groups."

The study was conducted in Bangladesh in collaboration with researchers from the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research (ICDDR,B). Researchers observed 340 mothers and their infants as part of the larger Mother's Gift vaccine evaluation study. The mothers were randomly selected to receive either flu vaccine or pneumococcal vaccine.

Source: Johns Hopkins University

Explore further: H1N1 'swine flu' vaccine unlikely to raise birth defect risk

Related Stories

Swine flu jab harmless to unborn babies

September 21, 2016

The swine flu vaccine, when administered to pregnant women, caused neither fetal injury nor infant death, writes Karolinska Institutet professor Johan F Ludvigsson an opinion piece in Tuesday's Dagens Nyheter in conjunction ...

Expert advises preparing for flu season now

September 13, 2016

The news that the nasal spray form of the influenza vaccine will not be available this year should not stop anyone from getting vaccinated against the flu virus, according to an expert at Baylor College of Medicine's Influenza ...

Colombia declares its Zika epidemic over (Update)

July 25, 2016

Colombia declared Monday its Zika epidemic is over, but warned that the mosquito-borne virus, which is blamed for causing brain damage in babies, would continue circulating on a smaller scale.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Cow embryos reveal new type of chromosome chimera

May 27, 2016

I've often wondered what happens between the time an egg is fertilized and the time the ball of cells that it becomes nestles into the uterine lining. It's a period that we know very little about, a black box of developmental ...

Shaving time to test antidotes for nerve agents

February 29, 2016

Imagine you wanted to know how much energy it took to bike up a mountain, but couldn't finish the ride to the peak yourself. So, to get the total energy required, you and a team of friends strap energy meters to your bikes ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.