Fertility and pregnancy * Women's health * Healthy living

Swine flu drugs "safe in pregnancy"

swine flu drugs safe in pregnancy First major study finds no ill effects

Although last year’s Swine Flu outbreak was not as deadly as some feared, it was still responsible for a number of deaths. One group that was particularly vulnerable was pregnant women, who were also advised NOT to take anti-flu drugs such as Tamiflu and Relenza.

But a new study has concluded that these drugs are in fact safe for woman to take during pregnancy. In the first ever large study to look at the effect of these drugs pregnancy, American scientists analyzed the medical records of 82,336 women who gave birth at one hospital from 2003 to 2008, a period that spanned five flu seasons. Although this did not cover the recent Swine flu outbreak, the drugs used were the same. Of the women studied, 239 had flu and were treated with one of the three main anti-flu medicines, Tamiflu, Relenza and Flumadine.

The study showed no difference in the mothers' rates of preeclampsia, preterm birth, gestational diabetes, premature membrane rupture, fever during labour or prolonged hospital stay.

After birth, there was no difference in birth weight, need for intensive care, seizures or jaundice among the babies. There also was no significant difference in stillbirths or major or minor malformations that could be attributed to the medications, the study showed.

Two prematurely born babies whose mothers had been treated with the drugs suffered from a bowel condition, necrotizing enterocolitis, which is common in pre-term babies. But the mothers received different drugs, so it is probable that the prematurity is the common factor, not the anti-flu drugs.

"Overall, this study provides important safety data to guide clinicians and patients in treating influenza in pregnancy" study leader Dr.Laura Greer commented.

The study is published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

This article was published on Thu 29 April 2010



Image © CDC C. S. Goldsmith and A. Balish


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