Influenza or the flu is a major cause of hospitalizations for babies in their first few months of life. Adults and older children can be vaccinated to reduce their chances of catching the flu. But there is no vaccine approved for babies younger than 6 months old. A new, three-year study by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine offers a solution to this lack of vaccine for infants. The study group has found that pregnant women can reduce the chances that their new baby will catch the flu by getting the flu vaccine while they are pregnant.
The Yale study included infants who were hospitalized at Yale-New Haven Hospital because they had the flu and a similar group of infants who did not have the flu. The goal was to determine whether flu shots given to pregnant women had an impact on whether their new babies were protected from the flu.
Marietta Vazquez, M.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Yale and senior author of the study. Vazquez said, “When we compared vaccination rates during pregnancy in the study, we found that in the group of infants who didn’t have influenza, far more mothers received the influenza vaccine.”
The study’s finding show that giving a flu shot to a pregnant woman was over 90 percent effective in preventing the newborn baby from needing to be hospitalized due to the flu in the first six months of life. This is important information for pregnant women who are considering whether or not to get a flu shot. Researchers at Yale believe their study shows that giving a flu shot to mom is an effect way to protect the new baby. In addition, giving mom the flu shot is cost effective because one injection provides protection to two people.
This study was published in the December 15, 2010 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases. The research builds on data presented to the Infectious Disease Society of America in Philadelphia in 2009.