The research is in: flu vaccine is NOT linked to autism

If you’re expecting a baby and you’ve had a flu jab recently to avoid getting sick, there might be the niggling worry about speculation that it could put your child at risk of developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

But you can rest easy. A comprehensive study that’s just been released finds no link between the flu vaccine in pregnancy and autism in children.

According to a report, the study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, followed 69 019 infants born across seven healthcare regions in Sweden between October 2009 and September 2010. Of these infants, 39 726 had been exposed to the H1N1 flu vaccine in utero.

The researchers from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, did follow-up studies with the babies for six years and seven months. They found that only 1% of those whose moms had received the vaccine and 1.1% of those whose moms didn’t receive the vaccine had ASD.

They also found that moms who had been vaccinated during their first trimester didn’t have any association with a higher link of autism spectrum disorder or autism disorder than the moms who had received the vaccine later in pregnancy.

ALSO SEE: Flu tips for pregnant and breastfeeding moms

Commenting on the study in an accompanying editorial, Anders Hviid, an epidemiologist at the University of Copenhagen who was not involved in the study, said he wasn’t surprised by the results.

“We know that autism has a strong genetic component and that no credible science supports the belief that vaccines administered in pregnancy (or in childhood) can cause autism,” he wrote.

A flu jab is widely recommended by doctors to protect the health of both mom and baby during pregnancy. The reason is that a flu infection in pregnancy is more likely to be severe, putting mom and baby at a higher risk for stillbirth and preterm birth.

Previous studies have shown flu vaccines during pregnancy are protective for both the woman and baby, but few have explored the longer-term risks.

This comprehensive study, say experts, should provide pregnant moms with additional reassurance that having a flu vaccine has protective benefits for both mom and baby, and is not associated with ASD in kids.

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