Early treatment of flu in pregnant women is key, study says
When preparing for the arrival of your bundle of joy, your health and that of your baby is of utmost importance. If you feel under the weather this flu season, a new study suggests you should alert your doctor sooner rather than later.
The study, which followed 865 pregnant women hospitalized by the flu, associated early treatment with the antiviral drug Tamiflu with shorter hospital stays. According to a news release, the median hospital stay for women with a severe case of the flu who were treated within two days of developing symptoms was more than five days shorter than those whose treatment was delayed.
“The flu should not be taken lightly, especially if you’re pregnant,” says Dr. Melissa Dennis, an obstetrician at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “Because the immune system undergoes changes during pregnancy, the flu can negatively affect pregnant women more than the average person.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coming down with the flu during pregnancy can increase the risks of pregnancy complications, including premature labor and delivery. However, if a pregnant woman receives a flu shot, it doesn’t just protect the mother. That protection could also be passed on to the child for up to six months after birth.
“If you think you have the flu, it’s best to tell your doctor as early as possible so he or she can help manage the symptoms and start appropriate therapy,” says Dr. Dennis. “But, ideally, the flu shot will protect you and your baby so you can maintain a happy, healthy pregnancy.”
If you’re pregnant and experiencing any of these symptoms, the CDC advises calling 9-1-1 immediately:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- High fever that is not responding to Tylenol® (or store brand equivalent)
- Decreased or no movement of your baby
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