Research says that infants born to women who received influenza vaccine during pregnancy are less likely to be hospitalized due to the disease.
Influenza is a major cause of serious respiratory disease in pregnant women and of hospitalization in infants. Although the flu vaccine is recommended for all pregnant women and children, no vaccine is approved for infants less than six months of age.
Lead researcher Dr Marietta Vazquez, assistant professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine tracked over 350 mothers and infants from 0 to 12 months of age who were hospitalized at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
They compared 157 infants hospitalized due to influenza to 230 influenza-negative infants matched by age and date of hospitalization.
"We found that vaccinating mothers during pregnancy was 80 percent effective in preventing hospitalization due to influenza in their infants during the first year of life and 89 percent effective in preventing hospitalization in infants under six months of age," said Vazquez.
"These results not only have a positive impact on the health of susceptible infants, but also may be very cost effective, as it involves one vaccine providing protection to two individuals.
"The findings may also help establish public health policy, increase awareness of the importance of influenza vaccination during pregnancy, and even help to overcome barriers to vaccination," Vazquez added.
The study was presented at 47th annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in Philadelphia.