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Week in Review: Flu Shots, Fertility, and Folic Acid

Posted by Lara Salahi  February 22, 2013 10:56 AM

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A roundup of this week’s pregnancy-related scientific research and news:

Flu Shot linked to healthier pregnancies
As if you haven’t heard it enough this season, here’s another reason to get the flu shot. A study published this week in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that in 2009, babies born to mothers who got the flu shot were 39 percent less likely to be born premature and more likely to weigh more at birth compared to babies born to mothers who did not get vaccinated. Nearly 45 percent of pregnant women got the flu shot in 2009 compared to nearly 20 percent in previous years. The 2009 spike in vaccination was likely due to the flu H1N1 pandemic that year.

Stress not a factor in infertility
Many couples who have trouble getting pregnant believe stress is making it harder for them to conceive. But moderate levels of stress won’t ruin your chances of ever having a baby, according to an article that appeared this week in Slate. The article cites a review of 14 studies that appeared in 2011 in the British Medical Journal that found that women with more extreme levels anxiety and depression who underwent in vitro fertilization were just as likely to conceive after one cycle as women who had more mild levels of stress. Of course, women who suffer from heightened levels of depression, stress, or anxiety should seek help, but shouldn’t feel added concern that their mental health is bringing on their infertility, according to this study.

Folic acid may lower risk of autism
Women are already advised to take folic acid supplements if they are pregnant or planning to conceive since evidence has shown taking folic acid can prevent the development of neural tube defects. Now a new study suggests that folic acid taken during pregnancy may even help protect a child from developing autism. The study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at more than 85,000 women in Norway and found that those who began taking folic acid a least a month before they conceived were 40 percent less likely to have a child who developed the disorder.

** On Wed. February 27th at 1p.m. EST, I'll be participating in the first of a 4-part weekly Google Hangout hosted by Pregnancy Magazine called "Knocked-Up Fitness." We'll be discussing all things pregnancy and answering your questions.

Check out the details! The discussion will be streaming live on Ultra Sound Pregnancy **

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Lara Salahi is an award-winning multimedia journalist whose specialty is reporting health and medical stories. She has worked in local, network, and cable television, international print, and documentary film. She More »

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