Pregnant women who opt for a flu shot may also reduce the likelihood their infant will get the flu during its first months of life, according to a study published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine and reported by HealthDay News.

For the study, researchers followed 1,160 new mothers on the Navajo and White Mountain Apache Indian reservations over three flu seasons. Of these women, 49 percent received flu shots during their second or third trimesters.

Researchers found that babies whose mothers received vaccinations showed a 41 percent reduction in the risk of flu infection. In addition, mothers who got the flu shot also registered a 39 percent decrease in their risk of hospitalization because of flu infection. Scientists also found that the infants of vaccinated moms showed higher levels of flu antibodies in their blood than those babies whose mothers didn’t get vaccinated during pregnancy.

“Influenza infection among young infants can be a serious illness,” said Katherine O’Brien, MD, professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and lead author of the study. “This study shows if the pregnant mother is immunized during pregnancy, it affords protection to the infant.”

But besides moms getting flu shots, there are several ways to protect young infants against influenza, O’Brien added. Some of those ways include ensuring those in contact with babies are immunized for influenza, practicing hand washing and keeping infants away from sick people.

Prevention measures are key, especially since infants under 6 months old are more likely to be seriously affected by the flu, and currently there are no vaccines approved for children in this age group.
To read more about how vaccines can protect your children, click here.