In response to the recent swine flu outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued new guidelines for physicians this week regarding pregnant women and children who may have this virus. They base their recommendations on observations from previous influenza pandemics since there are currently so few cases of the new swine flu, especially in pregnant women.
Pregnant women and children are among those at high risk for serious complications from flu infections, according to the CDC. Their findings indicate that some pregnant women may become sicker more quickly and develop more severe flu symptoms complicated by bacterial infections such as pneumonia.
Severe cases of the flu can be serious for both the mother and fetus, so the CDC recommends that pregnant women who have flu symptoms should immediately see a physician for treatment and be tested to determine which flu strain is causing the infection.
The swine flu virus is highly treatable, and pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding should receive the standard medications, says the CDC. Early treatment, within 48 hours of symptoms, provides the greatest benefit.
Pregnant women can reduce their risk of infection by taking the common steps that prevent any respiratory infection: wash your hands well and often, avoid sick people and keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.
CDC, “Swine Flu,”: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/
CDC, “Interim Guidance—Pregnant Women and Swine Influenza, Considerations for Clinicians,” http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/clinician_pregnant.htm
Parker-Pope, T., “The Symptoms of Swine Flu,” New York Times, April 29, 2009.
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(Information summarized by Darlene Jenkins, Ph.D.)