Women who decline to get a flu shot during pregnancy are more likely, after they give birth, to ignore guidelines for vaccinating their babies—presenting an early clue for doctors who may want to discuss the importance of childhood immunizations, according to a study in the journal Preventive Medicine.
Recent research has shown that many pregnant women get no advice regarding infant vaccinations or advice that contradicts current recommendations, the study said. Outbreaks of measles and other preventable diseases have occurred in recent years in children who aren’t up to date on their immunizations, but efforts to boost vaccination rates have had little effect, the researchers said.
The latest study, at the University of Minnesota, found that 73.5 percent of children whose mothers reported having a prenatal flu shot got the full slate of recommended vaccines by age 3, compared with 62.6 percent of children born to mothers who didn’t get a prenatal flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends pregnant women be vaccinated against the flu, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, but prenatal vaccination rates are low, the study said.
The study used a state registry to obtain immunization data for 4,022 children born in Minnesota between 2009 and 2011. Infants were considered fully immunized if they had been vaccinated for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, pertussis (whooping cough), measles, mumps, rubella, Haemophilus influenzae type b (bacterial meningitis), hepatitis B, varicella (chicken pox) and pneumococcal conjugate (various bacterial infections), by 36 months of age. Prenatal flu shots were self-reported by mothers as part of a larger study.
About two-thirds of the mothers had received prenatal flu shots. Among all offspring, 69 percent had completed the complete vaccination series by age 3, and 96 percent had received one or two of the vaccines. About 2 percent, or 86 children, didn’t have any vaccinations.