Flu vaccine may reduce the risk of stillbirth

This week, Clinical Infectious Diseases published my study on stillbirth and vaccination during pregnancy.  The study showed that women who received a seasonal flu vaccine during pregnancy had half the risk of stillbirth compared to unvaccinated women.

During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, a large number of studies showed that influenza infection put women at risk for stillbirth. Vaccination reduces this risk. The results of my study suggest annual vaccination in pregnant women could reduce the risk of stillbirth.

How did I come to this conclusion? I combined data sources from 60,000 births in Western Australia between 2012 and 2013. These data sources gave me information on the birth, the mother’s health, and vaccination details. I used mathematical models which looked at vaccinated and unvaccinated mothers over the course of their pregnancy. The models compared the risk of stillbirth and controlled for possible differences between the groups.

The study has received great media coverage. I was able to do a short interview with Channel 10 News in Perth. The story was also covered by several news channels in the US:

It was also covered in the West, ScienceDaily, Medscape, the Daily Mail (UK), ABC Radio, and a few pregnancy and mother’s webpages.

I was also really pleased to see Light for Riley mentioned our study on their Facebook page this week:

Light for riley

Next week, we will launch the annual influenza vaccination program in Western Australia. I’m hoping the release of these results encourages more women to get their flu shot.

The media coverage is great, and helps to spread our findings. However, I am most pleased to read some of the comments below the articles. One mum wrote she wasn’t planning to get her flu vaccine – but because of the article she decided to book a shot.


I can’t really describe what that feels like – to know that a piece of research you’ve completed has encouraged someone to make a positive health change. That’s my job satisfaction.

In 2015, 60% of Western Australian mothers got a flu vaccine. It would be fantastic to see even more women and their babies protected in 2016.




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