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Pregnancy flu jab reduces risk of early birth

Pregnancy flu jab reduces risk of early birth

Research from America suggests having a flu jab while pregnant can prevent the risk of premature birth.

Looking at a test group of 5,103 pregnant women during a high flu-risk time, 43 per cent (2,172) were vaccinated with an influenza injection. It was found that women who had had the jab were “statistically significantly less likely” than the unvaccinated women to have a premature birth. In fact the chance of going into birth early was slashed by 44 per cent, and it was concluded that as many as one in five pre-term births can be avoided during flu outbreaks.

Results were published in journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, with authors noting: “In this observational study, we found indirect evidence of influenza vaccine safety during pregnancy, and women who received vaccine had a reduced risk of delivering a preterm live birth during times of high influenza virus circulation. Vaccination may prevent 1 in 5 preterm births that occur during periods of high influenza circulation.”

In the U.K. the vaccine is routinely given to mums-to-be as there is good evidence that pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications if they get flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. One of the most common complications of flu is chest infection bronchitis, which can turn into pneumonia if it turns serious. Middle ear infection (otitis media), septic shock, meningitis and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) are other possible complications.

Studies have shown that the flu jab is safe to have at any stage of pregnancy, and having it doesn’t carry any risks to mother or baby. In Britain the flu jab is normally available from September to January or February.

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