Mum's infants who are in the ICU with serious flu have a greater chance of being born prematurely and underweight.…
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Do you need another reason to get the flu shot if you are pregnant?
One week study shows that pregnant women with influenza admitted to an intensive care unit are four times more likely to deliver premature infants and four and a half times more likely to have low birth weight babies.
Researchers compared 490 pregnant women with influenza and 1,451 who did not have the flu. Seventy-four of the women with the flu were so bad that they were enrolled in a hospital ICU. The results appear in the journal Birth Defect Research .
The study also found that children of the most seriously ill women were eight times more likely to have low Apgar scores, a measure of a child’s health in minutes after birth. The test assesses the child’s color, heart rate, reflections, muscle tone and breathing.
It is not clear exactly how being in the ICU may have influenced the newborns, says Dr. Sonja Rasmussen at the University of Florida College of Medicine, one of the study’s authors. She does not believe that the virus itself causes the problems, but admits that there is not enough information to draw conclusions.
More likely, Rasmussen believes that the problems arise because pregnant women with influenza have a greater risk of getting pneumonia, about having to become a hospital and even being admitted to intensive care, she says.
“When mothers are in the ICU they often need to breathe, they need a ventilator to breathe for them, and it may be There is a certain time where they do not breathe well enough to get enough oxygen for the baby, Rasmussen
For pregnant women in the study who were diagnosed with influenza but who could stay at home – and even those with flu admitted to the hospital but not included in the ICU – there was no significant increase in the risk of adverse health problems for their children.
Rasmussen says that it is possible that nutrition plays a role in the newborn problems. “When you have trouble breathing, you have trouble eating and it may be that mom did not get good nutrition during her time in ICU. “
Rasmussen says the study emphasizes the importance of pregnant women receiving the influenza vaccine and receiving rapid treatment with antiviral medications.
Prior to the 2009 pandemic, only about 20-30 percent received t of pregnant women flu vaccine. After physicians and healthcare professionals strongly urged vaccination, the rate increased to about 50 percent.
“Since then, influenza vaccine prices have stagnated,” since memories of the pandemic have become faded, says obstetrics gynecologist Dr. Denise Jamieson of Emory University School of Medicine. The vast majority of pregnant women should be vaccinated, she says.
Jamieson says the reasons the patients give for not getting the vaccine are many. Some say they have never had the flu before and don’t expect to get it while they’re pregnant, which “doesn’t mean they will avoid the flu this season,” she says.
Others say they got the vaccine before and it made them sick. That is unlikely, says Jamieson. The influenza vaccine does not contain active virus but is rather a “killed” virus vaccine, and therefore not infectious.
Still other patients worry that the vaccine is not safe for their developing child. It’s another mistake, Jamieson says.
“This is a vaccine we have given during pregnancy for many decades and there is no indication of any problems,” she says. “It’s a safe vaccine and we know more about this vaccine than any other vaccine during pregnancy.”
And, more importantly, there are great benefits that include “protecting pregnant women and their children from what may be devastating complications of the flu,” she says.
When women are vaccinated, they do antibodies to fight the virus. These antibodies can pass the placenta and protect the baby from serious illness, which is important, says Jamieson, because the baby’s immune system is still developing and they cannot be vaccinated until they are 6 months old.
So vaccine “gives some protection from birth up to six months,” she says.
And it is never too late or too early to get the vaccine, according to Jamieson. Pregnant women should get their flu vaccine as “soon it is available “, she says.