The Question: Is it safe for pregnant women in their first trimester to receive the flu shot?

The Study: Doctors at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas compared the pregnancy outcome of nearly 77,000 pregnant women who didn’t receive the flu shot with almost 9,000 who were immunized in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. They looked birth defect rate, stillbirth rate, newborn death rate, and other factors.

The Results: In all outcomes evaluated, receiving the flu shot had either no effect or actually lead to better outcomes. For example, the major birth defect rate in both groups was identical. This stillbirth rate was actually lower in the vaccinated group (0.3%) than in the unvaccinated group (0.6%). The newborn death rate was also lower in the vaccinated group (0.2%) than in the other group (0.4%).

Comment: Only 10-25 percent of pregnant women receive the flu shot even though they are more likely to get the flu than similarly aged non-pregnant women. When pregnant women do come down with the flu, their symptoms and complications are often worse than in their non-pregnant counterparts. The researchers don’t claim the flu vaccination leads to better pregnancy outcomes. They concluded, however, that it’s safe and pregnant women should receive it.

Read More: Obstetrics & Gynecology, 09/12

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From issue: 28/03-04