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Largest Study of its Kind Reports Flu Vaccine Safe During Pregnancy; Reduces Risk of Pregnancy Loss
January 18, 2013
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday says the flu shot is not only safe for pregnant women, but has shown no evidence for increasing the risk of miscarriage and can actually prevent fetal death related to the illness.
Investigators on the Norwegian Institute of Public Health study concluded that pregnancy loss is more common in mothers who contract the flu virus. The study tracked pregnant women in Norway through 2009 and 2010, as the swine flu strain of the virus made its international sweep. Over 113,000 pregnancies were analyzed in the study. Of those, 492 ended in pregnancy loss, translating to a risk of fetal death that is twice as high for pregnant mothers who do not receive the flu vaccine versus those who do.
Despite the CDC recommending flu shots to pregnant women since the 1950s, only about 50 percent (up from 15 percent prior to the swine flu pandemic) of pregnant women actually receive the vaccination. Receiving the vaccine while pregnant protects both the mother and her baby. The newborn carries immunity up until 6 months of age at which point they are safely allowed to receive the vaccination.
This study is perhaps the largest of its kind proving the safety and efficacy of receiving the flu vaccination while pregnant.
Cities across the US, including Boston and New York City, have been issuing Public Health Emergencies due to the severity of the flu outbreak this year. Others, like Los Angeles, have reported an increase in reported flu cases and flu-related deaths compared to previous years. Physicians and city officials say it is not too late to get the vaccination, as the peak of flu season typically falls in the cold month of February.