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Flu jab during pregnancy 'could protect babies'

Women may be able to protect their babies against flu by receiving the vaccine while pregnant.
New research has suggested that newborn babies could be protected against seasonal flu infections if their mothers receive a flu jab during pregnancy.

A study conducted by US scientists on 340 pregnant women in Bangladesh found that rates of influenza among babies under six months born to mothers who were given the flu jab fell by 63 per cent.

The researchers noted that the results could prove very helpful to the prevention of flu in newborns because babies are too young to receive the annual vaccine against the infection or to take the drugs for treatment of the disease and are therefore particularly vulnerable to it.

Reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study noted that the benefits of flu protection lasted for five to six months and bore similarities to the advantages to the flu jab seen when administered to older children.

Mark Steinhoff, a professor of paediatric and international medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, told Bloomberg: "There's never been evidence before that immunizing the mother provides a big benefit to the baby.

"That's what this study is about. More people should consider doing it.''

The women in the study were given the flu jab Fluarix or the pneumonia vaccine Pneumovax in the last three months of pregnancy.

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