Unintended benefit: Vaccine protects against more than the flu
Giving the flu vaccine to pregnant women may bring significant benefits to their babies even before birth, a new study has found.
Canadian researchers studied the records of 55,570 mothers of singletons, of whom 23,340 were vaccinated during pregnancy from November 2009 through April 2010. Compared with unvaccinated mothers, women who got the shot during the 2009-10 H1N1 pandemic had fewer preterm births and stillbirths, and fewer undersize infants…
After adjusting for maternal age, smoking, hypertension and other factors, vaccinated mothers had a 27 percent decreased risk of delivering a baby before 32 weeks gestation, for example, and a 34 percent decreased risk of stillbirth.
The report, published in the June issue of The American Journal of Public Health, noted that during the H1N1 epidemic, pregnant women who had the flu were more likely than other flu patients to need hospitalization. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu vaccine for all pregnant women.
The lead author, Deshayne B. Fell, an epidemiologist with the Better Outcomes Registry and Network in Ottawa, said the vaccine is safe and effective. “We’re seeing no evidence of adverse fetal effects,” she said, “and some evidence that there’s a benefit.”
Unintended consequences tends to imply something dire to those of us who fritter away a portion of our lifetime studying political economics. It is a delight to witness the opposite in medicine and healthcare.
In truth, one of the positive topics I often get to blog about is exactly this sort of result as a side effect of basic research. That the positive is a side effect of a vaccine already proven a benefit to our species – is a double bonus.