Flu vaccines are very important during pregnancy, according to doctors. Pregnancy can put extra stress on the lungs and heart and the immune system does not function as efficiently, making it harder for the body to ward off infection.
Studies show that flu during pregnancy may increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and potential death.
And other risks are emerging as well.
“Kids whose mothers had the flu disease while they were pregnant were slightly more likely to be diagnosed with infantile autism before 3 years of age in a Danish study,” said Dr. Alan Peterson, board member of the Partnership for Public Health.
Another study showed that children that are born after being exposed to the flu disease during the mother’s pregnancy may potentially have a higher risk of later developing bipolar mental disorder.
It is important to understand that since childhood flu vaccines can not begin until the baby is 6 months old, it is crucial to get the flu shot during pregnancy. Antibodies from the mother pass through the placenta to help protect your baby from the flu.
“Pregnant women who get flu shots are at no greater risk for complications. Studies of several thousand pregnant women in scientific literature have assessed the safety in use of flu vaccine during pregnancy,” said Dr. Peterson.
Some recent studies show that babies whose mothers received the flu vaccine during pregnancy were 50 percent less likely to be hospitalized with the flu than were babies of unvaccinated mothers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the flu vaccine for anyone who is pregnant during the flu season which is early September through late March.
Keep in mind that since infants can not receive the flu shot before 6 months of age, it is recommended that parents, family, and anyone that might be taking care of your child are immunized against the flu so it is not passed on to the child during that 6-month period.