Pregnancy and H1N1 Flu

If you think you may get pregnant in the next year, this may be the most important year to get a flu shot – and an H1N1 flu shot, when it becomes available. When pregnant, it’s generally best to avoid all medications unless the benefits clearly outweigh the risks. With this year’s flu season, this appears to be the case.

Swine flu hits pregnant women extra hard, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Compared to the general population, health officials are reporting a fourfold increase in hospitalization rates for pregnant women ill with the disease. Although the statistics are tough to measure because the numbers so far (thankfully) are so small, pregnant women seem to account for an unusually higher proportion of the complications and deaths from this disease. Flu season is still coming.

If you are already pregnant or think you may be pregnant, you should know that both the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that all pregnant women get a flu shot because even in a regular flu year, pregnant women have a higher risk of severe disease from the flu.

Your body is working overtime to grow a healthy little baby (or babies!) inside you, and you want to do all you can to prevent infection and illness. This is the most important time to be taking regular precautions to keep yourself healthy, such as eating right, exercising, visiting your doctor regularly and avoiding contact with people who are ill. If you suspect you may have the flu, the CDC recommends an antiviral treatment within 48 hours.

Read more about staying healthy during your pregnancy with the series Eating for Two: A Guide to Mother’s Nutrition during Pregnancy

Published on: August 03, 2009
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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