Seasonal influenza can cause significant morbidity in pregnant women. Much of the existing epidemiological evidence on influenza during pregnancy has focused on the 2009 A/H1N1 pandemic. To measure the epidemiological characteristics of seasonal influenza infection among pregnant women and the impact on infant health, a cohort of 86 779 pregnancies during the influenza season (2012-2014) was established using probabilistic linkage of notifiable infectious disease, hospital admission, and birth information. A total of 192 laboratory-confirmed influenza infections were identified (2·2 per 1000 pregnancies), 14·6% of which were admitted to hospital. There was no difference in the proportion of infections admitted to hospital by trimester or subtype of infection. Influenza B infections were more likely to occur in second trimester compared with influenza A/H3N2 and influenza A/H1N1 infections (41·3%, 23·6%, and 33·3%, respectively), and on average, infants born to women with influenza B during pregnancy had 4·0% (95% CI 0·3-7·6%) lower birth weight relative to optimal compared with infants born to uninfected women (P = 0·03). Results from this linked population-based study suggest that there are differences in maternal infection by virus type and subtype and support the provision of seasonal influenza vaccine to pregnant women.
Keywords: Epidemiology; infant health; influenza A virus; influenza B virus; pregnant women.