Flu vaccination while pregnant does not help baby

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pregnant woman NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Influenza vaccination for pregnant women expecting to deliver during influenza season does not seem to reduce the occurrence of respiratory illness in their newborn infant, new research suggests.

Influenza vaccination is currently recommended for children between 6 and 23 months of age. Vaccination in younger children has proven unsuccessful because the vaccine does not stimulate much of an immune response at that age, according to the report in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

One solution to provide protection to these young infants might be to vaccinate the mother in hopes that protective antibodies would be passed to the developing baby while still in the womb. Whether this strategy actually helps prevent respiratory disease in the child is unclear.

In their study, Dr. Eric K. France, from Kaiser Permanente Colorado in Denver, and colleagues assessed the occurrence of respiratory disease in 3,160 infants born to vaccinated mothers and in 37,969 born to unvaccinated mothers. All of the infants were born at least 28 days after their mother's vaccination and were exposed to 14 days or more of influenza season.

Maternal influenza vaccination did not significantly affect infant outpatient and inpatient visits for respiratory disease, the report indicates. Moreover, maternal vaccination did not delay the onset of the first respiratory illness.

Girls seemed to be better protected against acute respiratory illness, while patients on Medicaid and high-risk mothers were linked to increased visits for respiratory

"Although this vaccination did not appear to have an effect on the rates of infant healthcare visits, vaccination is still important and is primarily recommended to protect the health of the mother," the researchers conclude.

SOURCE: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, December 2006.

© Reuters 2006