Pregnant women who get flu shots will have bigger and healthier babies, studies show.
Flu shot in pregnancy will also help prevent preterm births and reduce rates of hospitalization for newborns, according to the studies presented at this week's annual meeting of the Infectious Disease Society of America in Philadelphia.
In flu pandemics, pregnant women were at risk for giving birth prematurely to underweight babies, the studies warned.
In one study, researchers at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health analyzed data on 6,410 births in Georgia and found that the risks of premature delivery and having a low birth-weight infant were significantly reduced among the 15 percent of women who received a flu shot during pregnancy.
During the height of the flu season premature births among vaccinated women fell 70 percent, compared with unvaccinated women, said Dr. Saad B. Omer, an assistant professor of global health and epidemiology at the school.
And the likelihood of having a small baby was reduced 70 percent, Omer said in a news release.
In another study, Yale University School of Medicine researchers found that the mother's flu shot during pregnancy was 78.9 percent effective in preventing her non-vaccinated infant from being hospitalized during the first year of life and 85.3 percent effective in preventing hospitalization from infancy to 6 months.