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Pregnant women who have the influenza vaccine cut their risk of having a stillborn baby by more than half.

According to a major new study by the WA Health Department, a simple seasonal flu vaccine could halve the number of stillborns.

The research examined almost 60,000 births in WA and found a 51 per cent higher risk of stillbirth among pregnant women who had not been vaccinated — about 40 per cent of expectant mothers in WA.

The result has prompted the department to revamp its upcoming flu campaign to highlight the potentially life-saving protection the maternal vaccine may offer unborn babies as well as benefits for expectant mothers and newborns.

The study by the department’s communicable disease control directorate and Telethon Kids Institute suggested the risk of death for an unborn baby was linked to expectant mothers getting the virus.

A total of 5076 (8.8%) pregnant women received trivalent influenza vaccine and 377 stillbirths occurred.

There were 5.0 and 3.0 stillbirths per 100 000 pregnancy-days among unvaccinated and vaccinated women, respectively.

After adjustment, stillbirth was 51% less likely among vaccinated vs unvaccinated mothers (aHR, 0.49; 95% confidence interval [CI], .29–.84).

The largest relative reduction in stillbirths was observed for births occurring just after influenza season (aHR, 0.33; 95% CI, .12–.88).

Pregnant women are at higher risk of serious complications from flu, including pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Advocating for change

Catherine Hughes, who lost her baby boy Riley to whooping cough, is now pregnant with her third child and has openly shared she will definitely be getting the flu jab soon.

“I’m definitely having my flu shot in a few weeks – not just to help protect baby in it’s first few weeks of life, but to halve the risk of having a stillbirth.

In a new study of over 60 000 women in WA, the risk of stillbirth was found to be over 50% less if their mum had an immunisation against influenza in pregnancy.

For more information about ways to minimise stillbirth, Still Aware are an excellent resource.

- Riley’s Mum x “

A Mum in the US recently shared her story in the hopes  of preventing what happened to her, happening to someone else.

Melissa shared – “Imagine waking up one day to find out that you’ve been asleep for 45 days straight. You’ve had four surgeries, are in a completely different hospital than the one you walked into, and your baby — who you last remember being 25 weeks pregnant with — is now a month old.”

Melissa was diagnosed with H1N1 swine flu. Read her story here.

Study author Annette Regan said the findings supported the safety of influenza vaccination during pregnancy and suggested vaccination protected against stillbirth.

“With more than three million stillbirths worldwide each year, establishing a connection between influenza season, vaccination and stillbirth could have global implications for infant mortality,” she said.

Professor Paul Van Buynder, a director of the Influenza Specialist Group, said the research was exciting and added an important third benefit to having the vaccination in pregnancy.

“We hope this additional information will encourage more pregnant women to have the vaccination and their doctors to recommend it, rather than being scared,” he said.

Share your comments below.

Image via Shutterstock

  • I like the article and I somewhat reluctantly re-tweeted it when I stumbled on it. I agree with vaccines.
    I just thought we should note that this doesn\\\\\\\’t prove cause and effect. It proves only association. i don\\\\\\\’t doubt that there is some benefit to stillbirth rates conferred by vaccines but to quantify it from this research design is silly.
    I put it to you that expectant mothers who vaccinate in pregnancy are health conscious women to start with and are therefore statistically less likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, use illegal drugs, sleep on their backs etc during pregnancy than those who do not vaccinate in pregnancy. These variables are not examined in the study.

    Meggen Lowry
    Next Step Physio

    Reply

  • I like the article and I somewhat reluctantly re-tweeted it when I stumbled on it. I agree with vaccines.
    I just thought we should note that this doesn’t prove cause and effect. It proves only association. i don’t doubt that there is some benefit to stillbirth rates conferred by vaccines but to quantify it from this research design is silly.
    I put it to you that expectant mothers who vaccinate in pregnancy are health conscious women to start with and are therefore statistically less likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, use illegal drugs, sleep on their backs etc during pregnancy than those who do not vaccinate in pregnancy. These variables are not examined in the study.

    Meggen Lowry
    Next Step Physio

    Reply

  • the article importantly draws attention to the fact that they are still unable to link stillbirth to influenza.

    Reply

  • Vaccines do so much good .

    Reply

  • I think this story is the first tine I’ve ever seen anti vaxxers rear their ugly heads. Once I am shocked. The additives to these vaccines are there to help the body absorb it and so miniscule it’s unlikely anyone would have a reaction to it. Although I might add, my grandson was born in March, his parents were advised to have the whooping cough vaccine but the flu vaccine wasn’t mentioned. I too have not had a flu vaccine and had 2 healthy pregnancies resulting in 2 healthy babies, who are still going strong

    Reply

  • And were is the information about the Flu vacine causing stillborns? I know numerous people that have had severe pregnancy complications and stilborns due to having the flue shot. As some peoples body cannot handle the vaccine especially in pregnancy.

    Reply

  • Scientists Link Autism To These Toxic Chemicals During Fetal Development (flu shot contains mercury, which is one of them)
    http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/05/11/new-study-links-autism-to-toxin-exposure/

    Reply

  • Here’s one for the flu vaccine… A true vaccinated versus unvaccinated study, with the vaccinated showing 5.5 times greater respiratory illnesses… http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/study-flu-vaccine-causes-5-5-times-more-respiratory-infections-a-true-vaccinated-vs-unvaccinated-study/

    Reply

  • Flu vaccine has NOT been tested on pregnant women and contains mercury, among many other toxins. NEVER

    Reply

  • What an interesting correlation. The flu shot isn’t that much effort for such a huge risk reduction. It was free for me because I was pregnant

    Reply

  • That’s interesting. I got the shot with my second and third kids but I wasn’t really pushed with my first.

    Reply

  • Great news! If we can lessen the risk of it happening then why not :)

    Reply

  • Wow, that’s great. I hope people get onto it

    Reply

  • Ive never heard a thing about this.
    I was lucky enough to have 3 healthy babies and never had a flu vaccine ever.
    My Mum had a stillborn. So heartbreaking.

    Reply

  • Oh really? That’s amazing! I didn’t know there was a relation between flue vaccine and minimizing stillborn risk. I never had a flu vaccine in my all life.

    Reply

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