flu-vaccineThere has been a lot of discussion, these days, about the potential risks associated with childhood vaccinations, particular in suggested relation to the rise in autism cases. There has also been a lot of talk about the necessity for flu vaccinations every year. Of course, there is implied concerns that the two share mutual risks.

Well, a new study has investigated this exact thing; and has determined that there is no link between flu vaccines in the mother and autism in the eventual child. While previous studies had found that maternal infection and fever during pregnancy shows some association with higher risk for autism spectrum disorder, this is the first test to specifically investigate the potential risk for autism spectrum disorder from influenza vaccination.

The study looked at nearly 197,000 children born at Kaiser Permanente Northern California between January 2000 and December 2013. Taking in a specific study population, the researchers found 17 percent of mothers were diagnosed with influenza, while 23 percent received the flu vaccine while with child. Overall, 1.6 percent of children born out of the study were diagnosed with ASD.

The primary conclusion, then, is that there does not appear to be an associated risk between flu vaccinations (in the mother while pregnant) and ASD (born to these mothers).

“We feel it should be reassuring for prospective mothers,” explains senior study author Lisa Croen., The Kaiser Permanente senior research scientist goes on to say, “The way we feel people should interpret this is that there is really not any increased risk for autism, and we’re recommending no changes in the vaccine policy.”

At present, The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—as well as the obstetric and pediatric medical societies—recommend that all pregnant women get a flu shot. Of course, this makes sense as flu risk is higher while pregnant; and that risk can increase risk for premature birth and low birth weight. But they also argue that getting a flu shot also protects the baby from flu infection during its first few months.

Croen continues, “We know that pregnant women are particularly vulnerable. There are lots of changes in their immune system and lungs and heart. It’s especially important to protect pregnant women against the flu.”