Could a flu shot hurt my unborn baby?

November 15, 2011 12:00 AM by

Most pregnant women do everything they can to ensure the health of their baby. However, some elements may be out of a soon-to-be mama's control, including the germs that abound during flu season. This may lead to one terribly agonizing question – should you get a flu shot this winter?

If you're nervous about a flu shot potentially harming your baby, you can put your fears to rest – it turns out the vaccine is actually highly recommended for expectant mothers! In fact, a flu shot can protect you and your baby from falling seriously ill.

Here's why – during your pregnancy, your immune system experiences changes that can leave you more vulnerable to severe flu symptoms. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that pregnant women who get the flu are more likely to develop pneumonia and face a higher risk of going into labor prematurely. Additionally, if you develop a fever while battling the flu, your baby may suffer from birth defects.

A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that waiting past November to get a flu shot lessened the benefits it could provide. And the researchers estimated that the average number of yearly doctor visits related to the flu could drop from more than 54,000 to 23,000 for pregnant women if they all got a flu shot.

For your safety and that of your child, ask your doctor about getting a flu shot early in the season. Also, make sure to contact your doctor right away after you begin to experience symptoms. Your physician may be able to prescribe an anti-viral medicine to help fight the illness.  

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