Women who had the flu vaccine while pregnant were 51% less likely to experience stillbirth than those who were not vaccinated, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
“Stillbirth is a devastating loss for any parent, and these results show that clinicians treating pregnant women should be promoting seasonal influenza vaccine every year for every pregnancy,” said Dr Annette Regan, lead author of the study.
“Pregnant women trust and rely on their healthcare providers to advise them during their pregnancy. In fact, 80% of pregnant women say they would get vaccinated had their health care provider recommended it to them.”
The study was based on data from 58,000 mothers who had babies in Western Australia from April 2012 to December 2013. Of those, the number who had the vaccine during pregnancy was just over 5,000.
Vaccination was significantly more likely in women aged over 35, those with pre-existing medical conditions, and mothers in the highest socioeconomic grouping.
Pregnant women are the top priority group for flu vaccination, according to the WHO, and earlier studies have shown that flu vaccines reduce the chances of babies being born prematurely.
However, vaccination during pregnancy remains a challenging subject – as evidenced by the low vaccine uptake rates in the latest study from Western Australia.
Pertussis vaccination is also widely recommended for pregnant women in order to protect them and their babies from a potentially deadly infection.
For advice on whether – and when – to be vaccinated, ask your healthcare provider.
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