A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine said pregnant women who receive flu shots can protect their unborn child from the infection, HealthDay News reported Wednesday.
Since it is recommended that infants under the age of six months not receive the flu shot, the shot is beneficial for both mom and baby.
“Our data show[s] that a single dose of maternal influenza vaccine provides a considerable two-for-one benefit to both mothers and their young infants,” wrote a team lead by Dr. Mark C. Steinhoff, of John Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
Steinhoff and his team watched a group of 340 Bangladeshi mother-infant pairs from 2004 to 2005. Some received the flu shot, others did not. The team tracked the levels of respiratory illness in the mothers and babies during the first 24 weeks after birth and found the babies born to vaccinated mothers had a 63 percent lower risk of influenza compared to the babies whose mothers did not receive the vaccine.
The incidence of respiratory illness with fever also declined among the babies born to mothers who had the flu shot, according to the team.
Maternal influenza during pregnancy can provide health risks to both mother and child, including fetal malformation and infant death.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended pregnant women receive a flu shot for more than a decade, but few expectant mothers do.