Flu shot during pregnancy could prevent other ailments

By Shayna Brouker • Published: August 15th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

August is National Immunization Month, and in support of bolstering your immune system against illness, here’s some news that will make moms-to-be happy; According to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health, pregnant women who received the H1N1 flu vaccine during the height of the epidemic in 2009 and 2010 were much more likely to deliver a healthy baby on time.

Specifically, they were 34 percent less likely to have a stillbirth, 28 percent less likely to deliver before 32 weeks, and 19 percent less likely to give birth to a child with a birth weight in the bottom third percentile. During the period before and following birth, there were also no adverse outcomes for babies or H1N1-vaccinated moms. And almost half of women who gave birth to a child got the H1N1 shot in the study time period, giving even more credence to the results — and vaccinations.

Shots can prevent a dearth of potentially deadly diseases, from the measles to rabies. But a survey of more than 700 parents found that 13 percent don’t follow vaccination schedules. Eighty-six percent refused the H1N1 influenza vaccine, followed by seasonal flu and chickenpox. It may have to do with the “herd immunity” idea that most of the population has been vaccinated, the rest enjoy some protection whether or not they’ve been vaccinated or had the disease.

But doctors say it’s better to be safe than sorry. So be sure to get your child — and yourself — inoculated according to the schedules recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s important to get protected on time because the risk of disease is not constant and children are more vulnerable at certain ages than others.

Celebrate National Immunization Month with a personal checkup. Make sure you and your children are up-to-date on shots, and if not, get to it.