Colds and flu

Updated 05 October 2017

Flu shot during pregnancy protects newborns for 8 weeks

Infants have high rates of flu, which puts them at risk for hospitalisation and death, so any protection carried over from the mother is a great benefit.

A flu shot during pregnancy protects newborns against the flu for about two months after birth, a new study finds.

Previous studies have shown that flu vaccination during pregnancy helps protect newborns.

This study shows the length of protection is likely limited to the first eight weeks of life, said Marta Nunes, of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and her co-authors.

Researchers assessed more than 1,000 infants born to women given a flu shot during pregnancy.

Read: Pregnant women should get influenza vaccine

Effectiveness ranged from about 25 percent to 30 percent at ages 8 to 16 weeks, and 16 to 24 weeks.

The findings were published online in the journal JAMA Paediatrics.

The results are important because infants have high rates of flu, which puts them at risk for hospitalisation and death, the study authors said in a journal news release.

Current vaccines don't work well in infants younger than 6 months and aren't approved for use in that age group, they added.

Read more:

Symptoms of flu

Causes of flu

Preventing flu


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Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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