(Relaxnews) - If you're pregnant and wondering if the flu shot is a good idea, a new study announced Tuesday finds the H1N1 flu vaccine not only can protect you from getting sick but can actually benefit your baby.
Researchers from the University of Ottawa in Canada examined data from more than 55,000 child births in Ontario during an outbreak of H1N1, comparing mothers who were vaccinated to those who weren't.
While prior research has found that pregnant women can safely get the flu shot at any stage of their pregnancies -- something many doctors vehemently support -- the new findings associate H1N1 vaccinations with a significantly reduced risk of stillbirth, preterm birth, and very low birth weight.
"These are all significant results, but especially interesting is the finding that the vaccinated mothers were one-third less likely to have a stillborn child," said study researcher Deshayne Fell, a graduate student at McGill University who works with the birth record database. "This is one of the only studies large enough to evaluate the association between maternal flu vaccination and stillbirth -- a very rare event."
Pregnant mothers who were vaccinated were 34 percent less likely to have a stillbirth, 28 percent less likely to deliver before 32 weeks, and 19 percent less likely to give birth to a child with a birth weight in the bottom third percentile.
"What surprised me and the research team was the strength of the protective benefits we found," said study researcher Ann Sprague, of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.
"The findings of this study are very helpful," adds study researcher Mark Walker, of the University of Ottawa. "Pregnant women are generally very, very careful about what they put into their bodies. For health-care providers like me, such a large-scale study that shows no adverse perinatal outcomes resulting from the H1N1 flu vaccine will be extremely helpful when discussing maternal vaccination." Copyright (AFP RELAXNEWS), 2012.