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Flu shot in pregnancy protects newborns

Mothers-to-be impart antibodies to offspring that pay dividends later

A pregnant woman who gets a flu shot passes protection on to her fetus that lessens the newborn’s likelihood of contracting the flu during the first months of life, researchers report in the Oct. 9 New England Journal of Medicine.

Although the vaccine has been shown to be safe, no randomized trial has evaluated the shot’s effectiveness in a clinical setting — until now.

“I think this will now make a difference,” says study coauthor Mark Steinhoff, a pediatrician at JohnsHopkinsUniversity in Baltimore and the Cincinnati Children’s HospitalMedicalCenter. “If you want to protect the baby and be careful, maybe the vaccine is a way to do that. I think more women will ask for it,” he says.

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