The flu jab, which is being offered to all pregnant women in the UK this winter, may also help prevent their babies catching the virus. A new study has found that babies whose mums had the jab in pregnancy were 41% less likely to suffer from flu in their first six months.
Researchers studied 1,169 US mums-to-be from an American Indian tribe that had a higher rate of respiratory illness than the general population. Not only did fewer babies contract flu if their mum had been vaccinated, they were also less likely to be hospitalised for other respiratory illnesses.
Angelica Eick, who led the study, has suggested that the antibodies made by the mum after being vaccinated, pass to the baby through the placenta and then via breastfeeding.
Pregnant women are more susceptible to illnesses like flu and the effects can be more serious. With swine flu set to make a come back this winter, this study supports the case for vaccinations for mums-to-be, as babies are generally not immunised for flu before they are 6 months old.