ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Being pregnant makes you vulnerable to a lot of infections, but a new study from Texas A&M University found there may be a particular cause for an increased risk of respiratory viral infections, like the flu, in pregnant women. Ivanhoe has the details on the study and what pregnant women can do to protect themselves.

We’ve all seen the pictures: wildfires in Canada causing smoky air in New York, DC, and even as far south as North Carolina. But smoke from wildfires doesn’t just cause hazy skies. 

Sharon Chinthrajah, MD, Assoc. Prof. of Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine says, “The air quality was severely impacted. I saw a lot more of my asthmatic patients coming in. They couldn’t breathe.”

And people with asthma are not the only ones affected by air pollutants. New research from Texas A&M University found air pollution from things like wildfires, traffic, and even poor indoor air quality produces ultrafine particles, or UFP’s, that can increase a pregnant woman’s risk for getting the flu.  

Having the flu while pregnant increases the risk of low birth weight and even miscarriages. But there are things pregnant women can do to protect themselves. First check the air quality in your area with weather apps or by going to airnow.gov. Also, avoid going outside if the air quality is low as air pollutants can still be absorbed through the skin. Invest in a home air purifier and get the flu shot.

“When they vaccinate, it’s not just about them, but it’s also about the people very close to them.” says Sunjoo Ahn, PhD, Associate Professor of Advertising at University of Georgia.

Helping pregnant women protect themselves and their babies.

The researchers say air pollution is responsible for one in nine deaths. And despite proof that the flu vaccine is safe and effective for pregnant women, less than 50 percent of pregnant women ever get the flu shot.