Study prompts call for flu shot, mis­car­riage link ex­am­i­na­tion

Orlando Sentinel - - NATION & WORLD - By Mike Sto­bbe

NEW YORK — A puz­zling study of U.S. preg­nan­cies found that women who had mis­car­riages from 2010 to 2012 were more likely to have had back-to-back an­nual flu shots in­clud­ing swine flu pro­tec­tion.

Vac­cine ex­perts think the re­sults may re­flect the older age and other mis­car­riage risks for the women, and not the flu shots. Health of­fi­cials say there is no rea­son to change the gov­ern­ment rec­om­men­da­tion that all preg­nant women be vac­ci­nated against the flu. They say the flu it­self is a much greater dan­ger to women and their fe­tuses.

The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion has reached out to a doc­tor’s group, the Amer­i­can Congress of Ob­ste­tri­cians and Gyne­col­o­gists, to warn them the study is com­ing out and help them pre­pare for a po­ten­tial wave of worry from ex­pec­tant moms, CDC of­fi­cials said.

“I want the CDC and re­searchers to con­tinue to in­ves­ti­gate this,” said Dr. Laura Ri­ley, a Bos­ton­based ob­ste­tri­cian who leads a com­mit­tee on ma­ter­nal im­mu­niza­tion. “But as an ad­vo­cate for preg­nant women, what I hope doesn’t hap­pen is that peo­ple panic and stop get­ting vac­ci­nated.”

Past stud­ies have found flu vac­cines are safe dur­ing preg­nancy, though there’s been lit­tle re­search on the im­pact of flu vac­ci­na­tions given in the first three months of preg­nancy. This study fo­cused only on mis­car­riages, which oc­cur in the first 19 weeks of preg­nancy and are com­mon. As many as half of preg­nan­cies end in mis­car­riage, ac­cord­ing to a March of Dimes es­ti­mate that tries to in­clude in­stances in which the mis­car­riage oc­curs be­fore a women even re­al­izes she was preg­nant.

Flu and its com­pli­ca­tions kill thou­sands of Amer­i­cans ev­ery year. The el­derly, young chil­dren and preg­nant women are es­pe­cially at risk. When a new “swine flu” strain emerged in 2009, it killed 56 U.S. preg­nant women that year, ac­cord­ing to the CDC.

The study’s au­thors, two of whom are CDC re­searchers, saw a big dif­fer­ence when they looked at women who had mis­car­ried within 28 days of get­ting a shot that in­cluded swine flu pro­tec­tion, but it was only when the women also had had a flu shot the pre­vi­ous sea­son.

They found 17 of 485 mis­car­riages they stud­ied in­volved women whose vac­ci­na­tions fol­lowed that pat­tern.

SAUL LOEB/GETTY-AFP

Mis­car­riages cited in the study could also have been due to age and other risk fac­tors, ex­perts say.

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