Pregnant women and their newborns are considered to be at high risk of serious illness during flu pandemics and seasonal epidemics.
As such, many countries advise all pregnant women to have a flu vaccine, which can protect both mothers and their young infants from the flu.
But uptake is low with safety concerns a common reason given for not being immunised, especially across Europe and in North America.
Flu vaccine calls
And although substantial evidence supports the safety of flu vaccination with respect to newborn health, few studies have assessed the health of older children who were exposed to flu vaccination in the womb.
Researchers in Canada and the US therefore analysed the relationship between 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccination during pregnancy and health outcomes in the children during the first five years of life. Of 104,249 children, 31,295 (30 per cent) were born to vaccinated mothers.
No elevated risk was found for cancer, infections, chronic diseases, hospital admissions or death in the children of vaccinated mothers.
“Especially in this era of ‘anti-vaxx’ anxiety and misinformation, it is our duty to be clear: vaccination of pregnant women saves lives,” the study concluded.