Researchers developed the survey in response to increasing rates of childhood vaccination exemptions, which research data suggest is due to growing parental concerns about vaccine safety, said Ann Marie Navar, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the study’s lead author. “Studies have shown that parents would like more information about vaccines and we thought the prenatal period offered a unique opportunity to give women this information”.

In a 2005 telephone survey, 71 obstetric practices, 85 paediatric practices and 51 hospitals agreed to report their current efforts to educate pregnant women about routine childhood immunization. The authors discovered that 32 percent of obstetric practices provided hepatitis B vaccine information and 23 percent provided information on other routine childhood vaccines.

However, 54 percent of obstetric practices that did not discuss immunizations did counsel patients about other child health and safety topics, such as car seats, pets and circumcision. “I think pregnant women are generally eager to learn about child health and are a receptive audience for education and information,” Navar said. “Our study suggests that the prenatal period may be a currently underutilized — but opportune — time to increase parent information.”

Although 78 percent of the 85 paediatric practices that participated in the survey reported offering prenatal office visits that could include immunization education, only 30 percent of first-time mothers made such a visit, on average. The hospitals surveyed had a higher rate (80 percent) of offering immunization education, while 20 percent still failed to provide immunization information in their prenatal classes.

MEDICA.de; Source: Health Behavior News Service