By Erin O'Donnell

New research adds to the evidence that flu shots are safe for pregnant women, finding that they do not increase the risk of birth defects, Reuters reports.

Scientists studied 9,000 pregnant women who received the flu shot and found that the rate of birth defects in their babies was 2 percent, identical to the rate among 77,000 pregnant women who were not vaccinated. The study was published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Interestingly, women who received a flu shot were less likely to suffer a stillbirth. It's not clear why, but lead researcher Jeanne Sheffield of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center suspects the vaccine might help by preventing severe cases of flu.

Image: Woman gets flu shot via Shutterstock.

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