The idea that the swine flu vaccine given to Norwegian women in 2009 increased their risk of pregnancy loss has been dismissed as false according to a recent study carried out in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Swine flu is a highly contagious respiratory disease of pigs, spread by direct and indirect contact. Its symptoms are very similar to those of a typical seasonal flu: body aches, cough, chills, temperature, headache and sore throat. Detection of the disease is often overlooked unless experts are specifically searching for it.
A few years ago when the swine flu pandemic was at its worst, the Norwegian government urged all mothers to get the flu shot, however there were many who believed that taking the vaccination would increase their risk of miscarriage due to what was falsely being reported about their possible harm to the fetus. These reports scared many pregnant women and discouraged them from being vaccinated.
Norwegian medical records reveal the true safety of the vaccineThe researchers analyzed the archives and medical records of Norwegian women and found evidence to suggest that the H1N1 vaccination doesn't increase the risk of miscarriage. Being infected with the flu though does significantly increase the risk of losing the fetus.
Dr. Camilla Stoltenberg, Director General of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, said:
"Norway is one of very few countries that have the opportunity to study these issues because of our excellent health registers. The registers include information about pregnancy and pandemic vaccination."
Dr Stoltenberg adds:
"It is reassuring that such a large and comprehensive study did not find any evidence that vaccination increased the risk of foetal death. The results suggest that influenza during pregnancy can be detrimental for the foetus, even if the mother is not seriously ill and admitted to hospital."
The risk of losing the baby is doubled if a pregnant woman is infected with the flu but decreased after receiving the vaccination. This highlights the importance of the vaccination in safely preventing a very harmful disease that could potentially increase the likelihood of miscarriage.
Allen Wilcox of the NIH, co-author of the study, said: "Most important is that vaccinations protect pregnant women against influenza illness, which could be harmful for both the mother and the baby,"
A previous study carried out and published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that the influenza shot improved the immune response in pregnant women and reduced the risk of losing their baby by transferring important antibodies.
Written by Joseph Nordqvist