Newborns can be protected from seasonal flu when their mothers are vaccinated during pregnancy, according to a study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The researchers observed a 63 percent reduction in proven influenza illness among infants born to vaccinated mothers while the number of serious respiratory illnesses to both mothers and infants dropped by 36 percent. The study is the first to demonstrate that the inactivated influenza vaccine provides protection to both mother and newborn. The findings were presented during the National Vaccine Advisory Committee meeting in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 17 and will be published in the Oct. 9 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The inactivated influenza vaccine (the flu shot) is not licensed for infants younger than six months. The alternative nasal flu vaccine is not available for children under age 2. The flu shot has been recommended for pregnant women in the
"Even though there is no flu vaccine for these children, our study shows that a newborn's risk of infection can be greatly reduced by vaccinating mom during pregnancy. It's a two for one benefit," said Mark Steinhoff, MD, the study's senior author and professor in the
The study was conducted in
"Pregnant woman should be encouraged to be vaccinated for the flu to protect their infants and themselves," said Steinhoff.
Additional authors of the study include K. Zaman, S.E. Arifeen, M. Rahman, R. Raqui, N. Shahid and R.F. Breiman from the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research in
The research was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the NPVO Research Fund, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc., the Thrasher Research Fund, Aventis Pasteur, ICDDR,B and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.