You've probably read a million articles and opinions on flu shots during pregnancy. I know I have, and back when I was pregnant during flu season I hemmed and hawed and worried and fretted before ultimately choosing to get vaccinated. It's probably never going to be a topic that's 100% controversy free, but here's the very latest based on what may be the largest study of its kind: if you're pregnant, it's safe to get a flu shot.
Not only that, getting vaccinated may prevent a terrible outcome. This new research shows that getting the flu while pregnant increases the risk of fetal death, and since we're currently in the midst of a widespread and intense flu epidemic, the time to get your shot -- if you haven't already -- is now.
The study was led by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, and was just released by the New England Journal of Medicine. Experts say this may be the largest look at the safety and value of flu vaccination during pregnancy, since it focused on more than 113,000 pregnancies.
Researchers found no evidence that the vaccine increases the risk of losing a fetus, but they believe the risk of fetal death was nearly twice as high for women who weren't vaccinated as it was in vaccinated mothers.
There will likely always be concerns for some mothers about the effects of vaccinations during pregnancy, but the CDC says this study in particular should ease any worries about the flu shot. While flu vaccinations for pregnant women have grown from less than 15 percent to around 50 percent, experts say those rates need to be higher. A flu shot during pregnancy can even help keep a newborn healthy -- while infants can't be vaccinated until 6 months, studies have shown they pick up some protection if their mothers got the annual shot.
Doctors and obstetricians are reminding everyone that it's not too late to get the shot. (I got mine last week at Walgreen's -- it took about five minutes, and they even have an online scheduling option.) It's obviously a personal decision, but for pregnant women who have been on the fence about getting vaccinated, this study seems like it might be the reassurance -- and motivation -- that's needed.
What's your take on flu shots during pregnancy? Does this study affect how you feel about the topic at all?
Image via Europe District/Flickr