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Research finds flu shots do not cause birth defects

A new study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests that the influenza vaccine does not contribute to an increased risk of major birth defects. The study found that about 2 percent of women who received a flu shot had children with serious birth injuries, matching the results for women who did not receive the vaccination.

While this study seems to confirm previous evidence that flu vaccinations are safe for pregnant women, thousands of mothers in North Carolina care for children that experienced debilitating birth injuries due to the negligence or incompetence of health care providers. Such individuals may be able to seek monetary damages to help compensate them for medical costs and their children's suffering by filing a lawsuit with the help of a qualified attorney.

The study compared data from about 9,000 pregnant women who received a flu shot to approximately 77,000 pregnant women who did not. In addition to discovering no link between the vaccination and birth defects, the findings suggested that flu shots may actually prevent stillbirths and newborn deaths. About 0.3 percent of women who received a vaccination experienced a stillbirth, compared to 0.6 percent of vaccinated mothers. Likewise, 0.2 percent of newborns whose mothers received shots died shortly after birth, versus 0.4 percent of infants whose mothers were not vaccinated.

The study's lead researcher admitted that the vaccine may not have necessarily caused the decreased rates of stillbirth and newborn death recorded by the study, suggesting that more research is needed to confirm the findings. Still, she explained that the study proves the safety of flu vaccinations for pregnant women and may help prevent other birth-related issues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommend seasonal flu vaccinations for all pregnant women. A CDC study conducted between 1990 and 2009 found no signs of a connection between flu shots to birth defects or newborn health issues.

Source: NBC News, "Study: Flu shot safe for pregnant women," Amy Norton, Aug. 28, 2012

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