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Fighting The Flu For Your Baby

October 10, 2011, 6:14 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Fighting The Flu For Your Baby
SIOUX FALLS, SD - While most doctors encourage their patients to get a flu shot, it is even more important for pregnant women.

Pregnant women are more at risk of getting severely sick or even dying from the virus. A new study shows a flu shot not only protects pregnant women, but their unborn babies.

Kristen Thorkelson is 16 weeks along. This is her second pregnancy; she lost her first baby in April.

"I was 22 weeks along, and he had a really rare genetic disorder. So I delivered, and he lived for 20 minutes. His name was Christian," Thorkelson said.

Thorkelson now calls Christian her little angel. While she's thankful for every minute spent with him, she's hopeful for a different outcome this time.

"Anything I can do to protect this baby or help this baby be healthy I'm in for," Thorkelson said.

That's why she's getting a flu shot. A new study reaffirms that babies born to mothers who received the flu vaccine while pregnant are nearly 50 percent less likely to be hospitalized for the flu.

"It takes about a month for your body to develop protective antibodies, and those antibodies will cross the placenta and reduce your baby's risk of getting the flu by 50 percent," Sanford Health Dr. Kristi Hermanson said.

Getting a flu shot is not only important for the unborn baby, but also the pregnant mother.

"When you're pregnant, your immune system is down, so you're a lot more susceptible to the flu. So if you get the flu, you have a higher risk of getting hospitalized," Hermanson said.

That's something Thorkelson will not have to worry about during this pregnancy, thanks to the flu shot.

"Being pregnant, you have a lot of worries, and the last thing I want to worry about is getting the flu. So if I can prevent that by getting a flu shot, I definitely can do that," Thorkelson said.

Hermanson also says the flu shot is helpful if you're around a baby during the flu season. That's because babies under six months of age can't get a flu shot.

CDC Guidelines: Pregnant women and the flu

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