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New study examines safety of meningitis vaccine during pregnancy

UA riskline experts seek research participants

The Arizona Pregnancy Riskline, a statewide non-profit organization based at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, announces a new national study to assess the safety of receiving the meningitis vaccine during pregnancy.

The launch of the study coincides with World Meningitis Day on Sunday, April 24, 2011. The study will be ongoing through 2015. The national Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), a parent group to the Arizona Pregnancy Riskline, is conducting the observational research.

OTIS and the Arizona Pregnancy Riskline ask pregnant women who have received the meningitis vaccine during their first few weeks of pregnancy to enroll in the study. Participation involves two to four phone interviews and release of medical records relating to the woman’s current pregnancy. Those interested in enrolling should call OTIS Studies at 877-311-8972.

“This is an important vaccine,” said Sara Riordan, genetic counselor and clinical instructor at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy and research coordinator at the Arizona Pregnancy Riskline.

“Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Vaccination is recommended because even though the disease is not very common, it can result in serious disability or even death. Teens and young adults, those ages 16 through 21 years, and those who live close quarters such as dormitories and barracks, have the highest rates of the disease.”

Not a lot is known about getting the meningitis vaccine during pregnancy, however, Riordan said.

“The meningitis vaccine is not specifically recommended in pregnancy because it has not been well-studied,” added Riordan. “There are no data to suggest that this vaccine is harmful in pregnancy. That’s why it’s so important to closely study it so that pregnant women and their healthcare providers can make the best choices for treatment and prevention in mothers and babies.”

Diana Johnson, study manager for OTIS, said pregnant women can take part in the new study even if they have not received the meningitis vaccine. They may enroll as a comparison group participant.

“Those who choose to share their pregnancy through this study will be contributing to the overall published information in the future, helping a lot of future moms and babies,” explained Johnson. Participants will also receive a copy of the results of the study.

More information is available at www.otispregnancy.org.

Arizona Pregnancy Riskline

The Arizona Pregnancy Riskline is a part of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center located at the Universityof Arizona College of Pharmacy. The Arizona Pregnancy Riskline isdedicated to providing accurate, evidence-based, clinical information to patients and healthcare professionals about exposures during pregnancy and lactation through its toll-free hotline, at 888-285-3410 and website, www.pharmacy.arizona.edu/centers/pregnancy-riskline

Updated: Tuesday, 19 April 2011