Maternal Vaccination as an Essential Component of Life-Course Immunization and Its Contribution to Preventive Neonatology

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Apr 25;15(5):847. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15050847.


Maternal immunisation schedules are increasingly coming under the spotlight as part of the development of lifetime immunisation programmes for the role that they play in improving maternal, foetal, and neonatal health. Maternally-acquired antibodies are critical in protecting infants during the first months of their lives. Maternal immunisation was previously overlooked owing to concerns regarding vaccinations in this untested and high-risk population but is now acknowledged for its potential impact on the outcomes in many domains of foetal and neonatal health, aside from its maternal benefits. This article highlights the role that maternal immunisation may play in reducing infections in preterm and term infants. It explores the barriers to antenatal vaccinations and the optimisation of the immunisation uptake. This review also probes the part that maternal immunisation may hold in the reduction of perinatal antimicrobial resistance and the prevention of non-infectious diseases. Both healthcare providers and expectant mothers should continue to be educated on the importance and safety of the appropriate immunizations during pregnancy. Maternal vaccination merits its deserved priority in a life-course immunization approach and it is perhaps the only immunization whereby two generations benefit directly from a single input. We outline the current recommendations for antenatal vaccinations and highlight the potential advances in the field contributing to “preventive neonatology”.

Keywords: antimicrobial resistance; breastfeeding; immunity; life-course immunization; life-long immunization; maternal immunization; neonatal intensive care; pregnancy; preventive neonatology; vaccines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neonatology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • Vaccination / methods*
  • Vaccines / immunology*


  • Vaccines