Flu vaccine poses no risk to unborn
January 17, 2013 -- Updated 1434 GMT (2234 HKT)
(CNN) -- Fears and misconceptions often surround the flu vaccine: Does it really work? Will it make me sick? Could it hurt my baby?
Researchers from Norway say the last question was a big concern during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic; anecdotal reports of fetal deaths caused many pregnant women to avoid getting vaccinated despite health officials' pleas.
To determine the accuracy of these reports, the Norwegian researchers analyzed data from more than 100,000 pregnancies during the 2009-2010 flu season. Their results were published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Top 10 flu questions answered
CDC director takes your flu questions
Flu epidemic: What you need to know
Are we near a flu peak?
The study found no evidence that the influenza vaccine increased the risk of fetal death in pregnant women. But pregnant women who were diagnosed with the flu - whether they had the vaccine or not - had nearly double the risk of fetal death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all pregnant women get the flu shot (the nasal spray vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women) to protect them from the virus. But during the 2011-2012 flu season, only 47% opted to get vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Pregnant mothers are just trying to do what's right, says Dr. Siobhan Dolan, co-author of March of Dimes' new book "Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby." Their fear often stems from the unknown, she says, which is why studies like the one publishing this week are important.
Flu shot myths addressed
"At this point we have mounting evidence - data and studies - that show it's not getting the shot that causes the problem, but getting the flu that's the problem," Dolan says.
Even if you are healthy, changes to your immune system during pregnancy make you more likely to get seriously ill, Dolan says. Pregnant women are more likely to end up in the hospital after an influenza diagnosis, according to the CDC.
Respiratory issues can also pose a danger. If a mother is having difficulty breathing, her baby isn't receiving enough oxygen. If you do get the flu, Dolan recommends asking your doctor about anti-viral medications that may help.
The CDC says it's not too late to get the flu shot. The U.S. flu season runs from October to May. Antibodies from the shot will protect you and will be passed on to your baby, providing protection until 6 months of age.
Part of complete coverage on
January 14, 2013 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
An early and severe start to the flu season has many health experts concerned. Here are your top 10 questions, answered.
January 17, 2013 -- Updated 1425 GMT (2225 HKT)
As flu season rages across the United States, federal regulators say they have approved a new kind of vaccine for the virus.
January 17, 2013 -- Updated 1434 GMT (2234 HKT)
Fears and misconceptions often surround the flu vaccine: Does it really work? Will it make me sick? Could it hurt my baby?
Influenza activity is spreading, creating a moderately severe flu season in the U.S. Send us photos of your flu survival kits.
January 14, 2013 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
We can track flu outbreaks down to the county and determine much about an outbreak's severity and how the virus is spreading. But there's still much that's unknown about influenza.
January 11, 2013 -- Updated 1838 GMT (0238 HKT)
Parents of young children who get the flu may have a hard time finding an antiviral drug to help treat them.
January 11, 2013 -- Updated 1936 GMT (0336 HKT)
Flu vaccine myths can confuse people trying to decide whether to get a shot. Here are five common myths.
January 11, 2013 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
You feel worse by the hour. Your joints ache, your head feels heavy, you can't stop coughing, you're freezing even as your temperature keeps climbing, your stomach is upset, even your eyes hurt.
January 11, 2013 -- Updated 2133 GMT (0533 HKT)
With so much flu activity, it's important to protect everyone around you if you feel like you are getting sick. Here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
January 11, 2013 -- Updated 1014 GMT (1814 HKT)
How will you know if the flu has crossed the line to become deadly? CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has the story.
January 11, 2013 -- Updated 2128 GMT (0528 HKT)
So you got a flu vaccine this season, and you've been reading about the flu epidemic. You might be wondering: Will the vaccine keep me healthy?
January 11, 2013 -- Updated 1020 GMT (1820 HKT)
Carl Azuz talks to CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta about how to prevent the flu.
January 11, 2013 -- Updated 1044 GMT (1844 HKT)
During the past few months, I have gently suggested to my patients that they receive the flu vaccine. Many said yes, but some declined.
January 9, 2013 -- Updated 2259 GMT (0659 HKT)
What do you need to know when it comes to flu germs? CNN's Lisa Sylvester reports.
January 11, 2013 -- Updated 1531 GMT (2331 HKT)
If you go to a doctor's office or hospital any time soon, you may encounter an uncommonly long wait.. This year's flu season started earlier, and health officials say it is more widespread and more severe than usual.
January 11, 2013 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
The common flu rarely kills the young and healthy, but the Schwolert family knows it can.
Today's five most popular stories