Flu shot and preterm birth risk

No it isn’t flu season yet but believe it or not another one will be upon us in the not too distant future.

So it is timely news for pregnant women to know that it has been found that a pregnant woman who gets a flu shot lowers her risk of preterm delivery.

This was just released by the March of Dimes…it is good news!

Flu shot lowers preterm birth risk

Aside from helping to prevent the miseries of the flu, a flu shot during pregnancy may reduce a woman’s risk of delivering a premature baby. Every year, more than half a million babies are born prematurely in the United States. Since 1981, the premature birth rate has risen by 30 percent. Babies born just a few weeks too soon can face serious health challenges and are at risk of lifelong disabilities.

A new study reviewed data from over 4000 births over a two year time frame in the state of Georgia. Roughly 15% of pregnant women received flu shots. These women who delivered during flu season (defined as October through May) were on average 40% less likely to deliver prematurely, before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. During the peak flu season (January & February), vaccinated women were 72% less likely to deliver prematurely as opposed to unvaccinated women.  Additionally, babies born during peak flu season to mothers who were vaccinated were 69% less likely to be small for gestational age.

At other times of year (not flu season), the study found no association between flu vaccination and reduced premature birth. Because of this, the researchers believe that it is the vaccine that is offering this protection. And an earlier study found that getting the flu vaccine during pregnancy can even protect your baby after delivery.

When you’re pregnant, your immune system isn’t as quick to respond to illnesses as it was before pregnancy. Your body knows that pregnancy is OK and that it shouldn’t reject your baby. Your body naturally lowers your immune system’s ability to protect you and respond to illnesses so that it can welcome your growing baby. But a lowered immune system means you’re more likely to catch illnesses like the flu. Your lungs and heart are working harder to support you and your baby and this stress on your body also can make it more likely for you to get an illness like the flu.

For these reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians and the March of Dimes all recommend women get vaccinated against the flu during pregnancy.

Tags: flu, flu shot, flu vaccine, influenza, Pregnancy, premature birth, preterm birth

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Don’t give SimplyThick to premature babies….

Urgent message from MARCH OF DIMES!

“Don’t give SimplyThick to premature babies

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is urging parents not to give premature babies (babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy) the thickening product called SimplyThick. The product may cause a life-threatening health problem called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). With NEC, tissue in the intestines gets inflamed and dies.

Some premature babies have trouble swallowing. SimplyThick is a product that’s added to breastmilk or formula to make it thicker. Health providers recommended SimplyThick because it helped premature babies swallow their food and keep it down, without spitting it up. SimplyThick was available from distributors and local pharmacies.

The FDA learned that some babies got sick with NEC after they were sent home on an eating plan that included SimplyThick. Sadly, some of these babies died. NEC most often happens early in a premature baby’s life while she is still in the hospital, not after she’s sent home. NEC is very dangerous to a baby’s health.

At this time, the FDA isn’t sure what about SimplyThick is making babies sick. The organization is actively looking into the link between SimplyThick and these illnesses and deaths.

In the meantime, the FDA urges parents to parents to stop using the product immediately, even if their babies don’t appear to be sick.

Call your baby’s health care provider if she shows any of these signs:

• bloated stomach

• greenish-tinged vomiting

• bloody stools

For more information on SimplyThick and the risk to premature babies, visit the FDA website.

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Premature birth gene…

MARCH OF DIMES…noteworthy news!

There is evidence of a gene that is related to the incidence of premature birth and it may be part of the evolutionary process of mankind (womankind).

“Premature birth gene

Scientists in the US and Finland say they have discovered a gene linked to premature birth. Investigators from Vanderbilt University (including a March of Dimes grantee), Washington University and the University of Helsinki report that variations in the gene for the follicle stimulating hormone receptor (FSHR) may increase a woman’s risk for delivering her baby prematurely.

The researchers believe there must have been evolutionary pressure to “adapt and shift the time of birth” to produce a smaller baby to ease delivery. A large head and a narrow pelvis are uniquely human traits. The report, published in PLoS Genetics, discusses evidence that gestation length has decreased throughout the evolution that leads to modern humans, and that human gestation is shorter than predicted compared to other primates.

To find genes that have changed to regulate birth timing, the researchers used comparative genomics to identify a set of “human accelerated genes” – genes that were most altered in humans compared to six other animals. They screened 150 of these accelerated genes in Finnish mothers and found that certain variations in the FSHR gene were more frequent in mothers who had experienced preterm birth. The same variations may also be associated with preterm births in African Americans.

Professor Louis Muglia, from the department of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University, is a co-author of this research and a March of Dimes grantee. Dr. Muglia said, “Ideally we’d like to predict which women are at greatest risk for having pre-term birth and be able to prevent it. That would really have an impact on infant mortality and the long-term complications of being born prematurely.” Here’s hoping future research reveals more soon.

Tags: follicle stimulating hormone receptor, FSHR, human gestation, premature birth, preterm birth

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March of Dimes… Ther-Rx and Makena

Recently, I posted when the March of Dimes took its’ position on Ther-Rx and the availability of progesterone therapy to women in need of it.

Here is an update on the ongoing efforts of the March of Dimes concerning this important issue.

“MOD responds to Ther-Rx

In the past few weeks, there has been a torrent of concern over the availability of progesterone therapy for women hoping to prevent premature birth.  We have held discussions with physician groups, various organizations and the manufacturer of the drug.  Ther-Rx Corporation’s handling of the launch of Makena, and the initial list price, were extremely disappointing and unacceptable to the March of Dimes and the families we represent.  While Ther-Rx Corporation’s decision yesterday to reduce the list price of Makena to $690 and to expand patient financial assistance are steps in the right direction toward making an FDA-approved progesterone therapy product more widely available, it’s not enough.  The March of Dimes has decided to exercise our right to terminate our current contract and sever all professional relationships with Ther-Rx.

The March of Dimes will continue to explore all options for ensuring access to progesterone therapy for all medically eligible women. Access for women to treatment to prevent premature birth is and always has been our paramount concern. We hope that the controversy surrounding Makena has helped raise awareness that progesterone therapy is a safe and effective treatment for prevention of preterm birth and that more obstetricians will consider it for appropriate patients.

Tags: 17p, KV Pharmaceuticals, Makena, pregesterone therapy, premature birth, Ther-Rx

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Related posts: March of Dimes takes a stand...

Prematurity Chat with March of Dimes…

Prematurity Chat

For those of you who are interested this should be a good exchange of information…check it out.

Evening chat on prematurity

We hosted a great preemie chat in November. Later we learned that many other folks would have participated if we had held the chat in the evening.  Well, mark your calendars. This Wednesday, Feb. 23rd we’re hosting a prematurity chat at 8 PM EST.

Join us to talk about your experiences in the NICU, the information you received from hospital staff, your scariest moments, your best moments, how you felt about coming home, what was helpful, what wasn’t… You’ll find us at #pregnancychat on Twitter at 8pm EST. We look forward to chatting with you Wednesday night!

Tags: chat, NICU, premature baby, prematurity

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