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Giving pregnant women flu jab 'has no adverse effect on baby'

The vaccination of pregnant women does not affect the subsequent development of their children during the first year of life, a large Dutch study has found.

A total of 1,739 pregnant women took part in the study, which was carried out during and after the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009.

Those who were in their second or third trimester at the time were eligible for the Novartis-produced influenza vaccine Focetria.

“We continue to recommend that pregnant women have the flu vaccination”

Louise Silverton

Just over two-thirds of women participating in the study (68%) were vaccinated with Focetria, while 32% decided not get vaccinated.

All women gave their permission for the researchers to gather information on their child’s growth and development, and 1,671 women also allowed them to collect data on infection-related contacts with a doctor during the first 12 months of life.

The team, led by Dr Nicoline van der Maas, from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in Bilthoven, focused on the infants’ weight, length and head circumference, as well as their overall development.

They found no statistically significant differences between the children of vaccinated mothers and those who did not get vaccinated.

Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This is good news as it confirms the results of previous studies on the safety of the flu vaccine for pregnant women and their unborn baby.

“We continue to recommend that pregnant women have the flu vaccination during the flu season (autumn and winter) to protect themselves and their baby from the effects of flu.”

She added: “We also urge midwives and other health professionals to have the vaccination to protect themselves, their family and the people they care for from the infection.”

The findings of the study are to be presented at the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases’ annual meeting in Dublin from May 6-10.

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