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Flu scare over pregnancy

Monday July 20th, 2009

Pregnant women were identified as amongst those most at risk from swine flu over the weekend following another death.

In Britain, the National Childbirth Trust was accused of "scaremongering" after it seemed to advise women to avoid becoming pregnant until after the flu epidemic has blown over.

The Department of Health was also reported to have revised its advice to the public, urging pregnant women to take special care to avoid the virus.

And in Australia, pregnant women were being urged to wear face masks.

Guidance issued by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists states: "Pregnant women should avoid unnecessary exposure to crowded areas but complete isolation at home would be regarded as extreme for most women."

The latest new mother to die from the disease was named as Ruptara Miah, who died in Whipps Cross Hospital, London, UK, shortly after giving birth.

A spokesman for Whipps Cross said: "Whipps Cross University Hospital NHS Trust can confirm that a 39-year-old woman passed away on July 13, 2009, and that she was infected with pandemic H1N1.

"The trust can confirm that she had underlying health conditions. No further comments can be made at this time."

In Britain, a spokeswoman for the Royal College of Midwives said there was no substantial change to guidance for pregnant women.

She said: "Experience with the current disease pattern shows that in most cases, swine flu tends to be a mild respiratory disease. A few cases of severe illnesses among pregnant women and infants have been reported in the UK and other countries. These have mostly affected women with pre-existing health problems.

"Current guidance in the UK for pregnant and breastfeeding women remains unchanged. Pregnant women are advised to practice good hand hygiene by washing hands frequently with soap and water.

"Tissues should be used to cover the mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing, and used tissues should be disposed of promptly. Pregnant women are advised to avoid crowded places when possible."

* Travellers are set to face growing numbers of restrictions after the Chinese introduced scanning machines at their entry ports, it was reported yesterday.

According to one report, airlines are set to prevent people from travelling if they look as if they have flu.

The Chinese surveillance led to a group of 48 British children and teachers being quarantined in a hotel in the country after three were detected as being ill on arrival in the country.

China, Thailand, Egypt and Turkey have installed thermal body scanners to spot flu patients, it was reported.

Tags: Asia | Australia | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Flu & Viruses | Traveller Health | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology | World Health

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