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Flu risk to pregnancy serious - experts

Thursday July 30th, 2009

Measures to protect pregnant women from swine flu must be stepped up, experts said yesterday - warning that these women face a high risk of complications.

US researchers found that pregnant women were four times as likely as other flu victims to need admission to hospital.

In two months the USA - which has had the world's highest number of swine flu cases - experienced six deaths of pregnant women from pneumonia caused by the virus.

The stark warning has been published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an on-line article for The Lancet.

The US researchers, led by Dr Denise Jamieson, said pregnant women who contract the flu need anti-viral drugs immediately - and they should be a priority for vaccination once vaccines are ready.

They warn that women may resist vaccination when they are pregnant - and that in the US who died had not been given anti-flu drugs in the first two days of their illness.

In Britain the new findings were welcomed by obstetricians.

Mr Boon Lim, of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: "Pregnant women are regarded as a high-risk group and these latest findings from the CDC show that they have enhanced susceptibility to developing pneumonia and/or acute respiratory distress syndrome, once they contract the H1N1v flu."

He added: "Currently, in the UK, pregnant women are advised to be immunised against the seasonal flu. The recommendation by the CDC to immunise pregnant women from swine flu is an extension of this principle and one which we support.

"The RCOG is working closely with the Department of Health to examine the evidence around safety of vaccination against the swine flu virus. Further guidance on vaccination will be issued in the near future."

Lancet On-line July 29 2009

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | Flu & Viruses | North America | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology | World Health

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