Flu jabs during pregnancy lower virus risk to baby

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

LONDON - Babies whose mothers have the flu jab during pregnancy are less likely to catch the virus themselves, finds a recent study.

A flu jab protects youngsters in the first six months of life and makes them 40 percent less likely to need hospital treatment for respiratory illnesses, according to a US research.

Research shows pregnant women are at higher risk of serious complications from swine flu compared with the general public, and have a higher rate of hospital admissions, according to the journal Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Experts say a “substantial proportion” of children will have already immunity to swine flu either from being vaccinated last year or after exposure to the virus, reports the Daily Mail.

The authors of the study said: “Influenza virus infection in infants is generally more frequent among those aged six to 12 months than in the first six months of life, potentially owing to the protection conferred by maternal influenza antibodies acquired transplacentally or through breastfeeding.”

“However, during severe influenza seasons, morbidity and mortality rates among infants younger than six months have been reported to exceed those of older infants.”

The study was carried out by Angelia Eick of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Centre in Maryland, US.

The team examined a group of 1,169 women from Navajo and White Mountain Apache Indian reservations, where children have a higher rate of severe respiratory infection than in the general population.

All the women completed questionnaires and a sub-set of 160 mothers and their babies had blood samples taken to check for the presence of flu antibodies.

The results showed that those babies whose mothers had the flu jab were 41 percent less likely to suffer a flu infection and were 39 percent less likely to be admitted to hospital for flu or a flu-like illness.

Filed under: Medicine, Swine Flu, World

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