Babies at risk of flu

MORE than half of pregnant women in Rotherham put their unborn babies at risk by not having the flu jab last winter, new figures reveal.

NHS Rotherham said just 38.2 per cent of expecting mothers in the borough had the protective jab.

Those who did not are putting themselves and their unborn babies at risk.

Health chiefs said pregnant women who catch flu, in particular the Influenza A H1N1 strain, are at increased risk of serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

Flu infection in the mother affects the baby too, and by not having the vaccine, they put the baby at risk of premature or still birth.

NHS Rotherham is now encouraging more women to get the flu vaccine.

Kathy Wakefield, infection prevention lead at NHS Rotherham, said: “Flu can cause serious illness in pregnant women and in the most severe cases can put the lives of expectant mums and their unborn babies at risk.

“This is because the woman’s body and immune system is adapting to accommodate the growing baby and less able to fight off the flu virus.

“When you are pregnant you want to do what is right for your baby and some mothers-to-be worry about the safety and potential side effects of the vaccine.”

She added: “It is safe for mother and baby and can be given at any stage of pregnancy, as flu generally starts to circulate in the community from November the earlier you have the vaccine the sooner you will be protected for the whole winter. The vaccine may also give your unborn baby some protection against flu during the first six months of life.”

For more information about the flu vaccine, visit http://www.rotherham.nhs.uk/health/seasonal-flu.htm