'The claims of anti-vaccine sceptics that pregnant mothers who have the flu jab increase the risk of their child suffering health complications have been thoroughly debunked in a major new study.
Around 104,000 children were followed throughout their first five years by Canadian researchers, including 31,000 whose mothers received the H1N1 influenza vaccination during the 2009 "swine flu" outbreak.
They found no sign that maternal vaccination raised the risk of developmental conditions like autism, or respiratory infections, ear infections, cancers, sensory conditions, emergency hospitalisations, long term conditions or death.
The researchers, from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, did identify a small, 5 per cent increase in rates of childhood asthma in the maternally vaccinated group.
But rates of stomach and digestive complaints in this group were 6 per cent lower and the researchers said there was no obvious "biological mechanism" which would explain either effect so it could be down to chance.
Safety concerns are commonly cited as a reason for the low uptake of vaccinations among pregnant mothers.
Fewer than half of pregnant women in England were vaccinated in 2017-18 and rates are even lower in parts of Europe and North America.
However, official recommendations in the UK and most other countries are that every expectant mother should have the jab, as they are a high risk group alongside the elderly and very young children.
There has been growing concern among health organisations about "vaccine hesitancy", driven in part by the rapid spread of fearmongering "myths" about vaccine's harms on social media.'
Read more: Risks of flu vaccine in pregnancy 'debunked' in major study that system wants you to believe
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