Flu shot for pregnant women can reduce risk of schizophrenia in children, study finds

Ian Bush
November 17, 2018 - 10:00 pm
Pregnant Woman

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Doctors have made it a priority to recommend pregnant women get a flu shot. It's especially important for a certain group of expectant moms, according to new research out of Villanova University. 

Children born to low-income women are more likely to develop schizophrenia. But the study finds things get worse when that woman's pregnancy occurs during flu season.

"Not only did they get the worst form of schizophrenia and the highest rate overall, but they are especially likely to have what's known as early onset of symptoms -- before [age] 18," said Bernie Gallagher, a professor of psychiatric sociology at Villanova. "If you were to ask me how much more likely, the answer is 700 percent more likely."

RELATED: 80,000 deaths caused by flu last season, CDC says

When mom gets the flu, Gallagher says, it can harm the brain development of her fetus.

Reducing the risk comes with improved prenatal care, including the flu vaccine. 

Not as easily solved: how to expand access and awareness to such health services for women in poverty.