Study Charts Flu Shot’s Impact on Pregnant Women and Their Babies

Repeated flu shots weaken your body’s initial response - but does it affect the baby?

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(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – For most of us, getting the flu is a miserable inconvenience, but for some it can be dangerous, even deadly. Pregnant women and young babies are among those most at risk for complications from the flu, and while doctors have long recommended flu shots for protection, experts weren’t exactly sure how the shots affect pregnancy.

    “We know in normal situations flu shots help us develop antibodies to protect us from the flu virus, but when it comes to understanding exactly how vaccines impact pregnancy, our understanding has been somewhat lacking,” said Lisa Christian, associate professor and researcher from the Institute of Behavioral Medicine Research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “So, we launched a study to not only track immune response in expectant mothers, but to see how well protection from the flu vaccine is transferred to the baby.”

    In all, researchers followed 141 pregnant women, 91 of whom received a flu shot in the previous year, 50 who had not. “We actually found that those who didn’t get a flu shot had a better initial immune response to the vaccine,” said Christian. “On the other hand, for those who tend to get flu shots year after year, their peak antibody response becomes weakened over time.”

    To see how that might affect babies, researchers tested women throughout their pregnancy and, upon delivery, tested blood from the umbilical cord to see how well protection from the flu vaccine had been transferred to the baby while in the womb.

    “The good news is, this study showed that the benefits of a flu shot to the baby were not affected in either group,” said Christian. “Women who get a flu shot year after year will likely see their initial antibody response weaken over time, but it’s ultimately not going to affect their babies. Our study found that by the time of delivery, both mom and baby were well protected.”

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A new study shows pregnant women who get flu shots regularly have a weaker peak antibody response to the vaccine than women who don’t get them regularly, though mothers and their babies in both groups were well-protected at the time of delivery.

Regular flu shots tend to weaken the peak antibody response in pregnant women, although both mom and baby were well-protected by the time of delivery, according to a new study.

Researcher Lisa Christian analyzes data about flu shots in pregnant women with a colleague at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Kristen Braumoeller takes her infant daughter for a walk near their home in Worthington, Ohio. Braumoeller took part in a study to see how women who get regular flu shots respond to the vaccine during pregnancy.

Kristen Braumoeller with her daughter Molly at their home in Worthington, Ohio. Braumoeller volunteered for a study while pregnant with Molly to see how flu shots affect unborn babies and pregnant women who get the vaccines on a regular basis.

A new study shows that pregnant women who get a regular flu shot have a weakened peak antibody response to the vaccine but by the time of delivery mother and baby proved to be well-protected from the virus.