Pregnant Women and the Swine Flu

The New York Times article, “Drugs Urged for Swine Flu in Pregnancy” is a good reminder that though you may be hearing less about the swine flu, it is certainly not something to forget.

Pregnant women who get swine flu are at such high risk of complications like pneumonia, dehydration and premature labor that they should be treated at once with the antiviral drug Tamiflu — even though it is not normally recommended in pregnancy, the CDC said Tuesday.  Tamiflu is not normally recommended for use by pregnant women because the effects on the unborn child are unknown, according to its maker, Roche.

American doctors are often reluctant to prescribe flu drugs for pregnant women unless they develop severe symptoms like pneumonia. Pregnant women are often reluctant to take medication. A pregnant woman is at higher risk from flu because hormonal changes depress the immune system to protect the fetus.

Details about the death of the pregnant woman in Texas emerged Friday in the disease centers’ weekly morbidity and mortality report. Dr. Jamieson said the woman had mild asthma and psoriasis, but was relatively healthy. The woman has been widely identified as Judy Trunnell, 33.

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