Study finds that flu vaccination in pregnancy reduces the risk of having a premature birth

A Canadian study has found an association between flu vaccination in pregnancy and improved outcomes for newborn babies.

A team from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia analysed data from over 12,000 women who gave birth between November 2010 and March 2012. 16% of the women (about 1 in every 6) had had the flu vaccine while they were pregnant. The study looked at whether the flu vaccine made any difference to a woman’s chance of giving birth prematurely, or of having a low-birthweight baby.

Women who had been vaccinated were 25% less likely to give birth prematurely, and 27% less likely to have a low-birthweight baby. The researchers suggest that flu infection produces an inflammatory response in the body which can trigger premature labour. This could explain why women who have been vaccinated in pregnancy are at less risk of premature birth.

All pregnant women in the UK are offered flu vaccination. However, fewer than 4 in 10 of them have so far been vaccinated this winter. The authors of this study hope that their findings will encourage more pregnant women in all countries to have the flu vaccine.

Read the abstract of the Canadian study