Everything Pregnancy

Getting This Vaccine May Cut Stillbirth Risk in Half

Protecting yourself from this seasonal illness helps pregnant women reduce their chance of stillbirth signficantly, according to a new study.

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Another reason to get poked and prodded during pregnancy: A new study has found that pregnant mamas who get a flu shot cut their chance of having a stillbirth by more than half!

Researchers in Austrailia studied about 60,000 births during the 2012 and 2013 flu seasons and discovered that the women who received the vaccine were 51 percent less likely to have a stillbirth than those who went unvaccinated. The study also revealed that stillbirth rates rose after the season and fell in the months prior, though the seasonal differences were not statistically significant.

"During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, we saw a similar reduction in stillbirths following vaccination," said study author Annette Regan in a statement. "Our results are particularly exciting since they show we can get the same protection during seasonal epidemics, which occur every winter. Unfortunately, we know that about 40 percent of pregnant women go unvaccinated, missing out on these benefits."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone six months of age and older should get an annual flu shot—including pregnant women, who are at increased risk of serious flu-related complications. But even though having the flu during pregnancy has been linked to things like fetal death and premature birth, many expectant women opt not to get a shot because they're concerned about the safety of the fetus.

While further research is still needed into the association between stillbirth, seasonal flu and flu vaccines, the researchers said if a link between flu season and stillbirth is found, it could have a major impact on infant death.

"I'm hoping results like these can convince more pregnant women to get vaccinated each year," Regan said.

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and a mom. Check out her website holleeactmanbecker.com for more, and follow her on Twitter at @holleewoodworld.