Which moms are likelier to immunize their babies?
Women are more likely to decline immunizations for their baby if they refused to get a flu shot for themselves during pregnancy, according to a recent study.
The study, published in the journal Preventive Medicine and conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota, revealed that more than 73 percent of children whose mothers reported having a prenatal flu shot had all recommended vaccines by age 3, compared with only 62 percent of children whose mothers never received a prenatal flu shot.
For the study, researchers analyzed immunization data from the Minnesota state registry, which included more than 4,000 children born between 2009 and 2011. Mothers self-reported on whether or not they received a prenatal flu shot, and children were considered fully immunized if they had been vaccinated by 36 months of age for 11 diseases, including diphtheria, polio, measles and tetanus.
For moms that forego prenatal flu shots and childhood immunizations, Dr. Asit Vora, a pediatrician with Advocate Children’s Medical Group in Oak Lawn, Ill., offers a reminder of how significant vaccinations are for children.
“It is important for both parents to get the flu shot, since the infant won’t be able to receive their own flu shot until they are at least six months of age,” says Dr. Vora. “The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) also recommends both parents and any close caretakers receive the Tdap shot (Tetanus and Pertussis booster) prior to the birth of the child.”
Once the child is born, Dr. Vora says that the most important thing a parent can do for their infant’s health is to ensure they receive the full slate of recommended immunizations on the CDC-approved schedule. He explains that the CDC immunization schedule is based on research that looks at the natural development of our body’s immune system and what diseases are most likely to cause illness and/or death at specific ages.
Dr. Vora also explains that infants and children are often too young to receive immunizations themselves for specific diseases and thus rely on herd immunity – the idea that if everyone around them is protected against an illness, then the child is less likely to catch the infection themselves.
“Vaccinations have been the single greatest public health achievement man has ever created, and we owe it to our children to provide them with all the tools necessary to ensure and protect their health and well-being,” adds Dr. Vora.
About the Author
Julie Nakis, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. She earned her BA in communications from the University of Iowa – Go Hawkeyes! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring the city and cheering on the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks.