No, pregnant women getting the flu shot doesn't cause autism
Moms-to-be who worry that getting their annual flu shot — or, worse, coming down with the actual flu — might cause their babies to be born with autism can roll up their sleeves with ease.
According to a new study that has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, neither catching the flu nor receiving the vaccine seems to put their babies at risk. The study observed nearly 200,000 children who were born in California between 2000 and 2012. Of these 200,000 youngsters, 1,400 of their moms were diagnosed with the flu and 45,000 got a flu shot.
Although about 3,100 of the kids featured in the study were eventually diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, there was still no clear, tangible link between an autism diagnosis and that child’s mother getting the flu or a vaccine.
One of the study’s authors, Lisa Croen, Ph.D., who directs Kaiser Permanente's Autism Research Program in Oakland, California, told the Chicago Tribune that, “The results of this study confirm that neither getting influenza during pregnancy or getting a flu vaccine in the second or third trimester is associated with risk of autism in the child.”
Though there will be more research into any possible effects of receiving a flu vaccine within the first trimester of pregnancy, this is good news for expectant mothers as we head into the winter months — aka peak flu season. According to the Centers for Disease Control, influenza can be particularly rough on pregnant women, so it’s particularly important for them to be properly vaccinated.
The CDC does suggest that pregnant women should opt for the shot and not a nasal spray vaccine. So, moms-to-be should make that appointment with their primary care providers or trek over to the local supermarket and get their flu shots soon.