Flu and Newborns

5 11 2008

In September of 2008, the New England Journal of Medicine printed an article by Dr. Mark Steinhoff and colleagues titled Effectiveness of Maternal Influenza Immunization in Mothers and Infants.

The study and its results present a compelling case for vaccination of pregnant women to protect both mothers and infants against influenza.  In the article, Dr. Steinhoff et al. note, “Inactivated influenza vaccine is recommended for pregnant women but is not licensed for infants younger than 6 months of age.”  If a pregnant mother doesn’t get vaccinated, this leaves the infant unprotected during the first six months of life. 

This study found that if a mother is vaccinated while pregnant, the “inactivated influenza vaccine reduced proven influenza illness by 63 percent in infants up to 6 months of age.”

The study needs to be replicated, as it was rather small.  However, the findings are strong enough that, if pregnant, it makes it worth an expectant mother’s time to talk with an OB/GYN or family healthcare provider to see if vaccination is an appropriate precaution to take.