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Flu shots for moms-to-be benefit babies

Vaccination for seasonal influenza may help prevent premature and low-weight births

6:46pm, October 29, 2009

PHILADELPHIA — By getting a flu shot, a pregnant woman can reduce the risk that her child will be born prematurely or at a low birth weight, two studies show. Researchers working in the United States and Bangladesh presented the new data October 29 at a meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Scientists consider flu infection during pregnancy a potential health risk to the fetus, even if the infection doesn’t make the woman outwardly sick. 

In the U.S. study, epidemiologist Saad Omer of Emory University in Atlanta and his colleagues used a database of pregnant mothers in Georgia to identify 4,168 women who gave birth between June 2004 and September 2006. Of these, 15 percent had received a flu shot during pregnancy.

Children born to women getting the shot were 40 percent less likely to be born prematurely during the entire October-to-May flu season. In the throes of flu season — the months wh
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