If you’re pregnant and haven’t gotten a flu shot it’s time to get one, says Geeta Swamy, MD, a Duke Medicine ob/gyn who recommends pregnant women get the vaccine each year, whether their pregnancy falls before, during and even after the flu season peaks.
“Maternal immunizations protect the mother, but have an even greater potential impact on your baby,” says Swamy, a nationally recognized expert on immunizations during pregnancy. “It’s only one vaccine but it has three very important benefits – it protects the mom, it protects the fetus by preventing the risks of preterm delivery and low birth weight, and it protects the newborn before he or she is old enough to be vaccinated.”
While pregnant women are not at higher risk for getting the flu, they are more likely to suffer serious complications, Swamy says. Data show pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized; and they have higher rates of pneumonia, respiratory complications and death related to the influenza infection.
The risks to the unborn child are just as severe.
“Babies who are exposed to influenza during the mother’s pregnancy may suffer from long-term implications,” says Swamy. “Even if mom is fine, there is some evidence to suggest that influenza exposure can lead to medical problems that include psychiatric disorders in the baby’s future.”
For more reasons why a flu shot is a good idea for pregnant women, read the full post at DukeHealth.org. Duke Medicine, Go Ask Mom's sponsor, offers health information and tips every Tuesday.