Fertility and pregnancy

Pregnant women with swine flu 13 times more likely to be critically ill

Risk higher than thought

Pregnant women with swine flu are 13 times more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit, new research has found.

A previous study carried out in the US found that women infected with the H1N1 flu virus whilst pregnant were four times more likely to become seriously ill and develop complications.

However, the latest findings from Australian scientists suggest the risk may be much higher.

The researchers looked at what happened to women with confirmed swine flu who were pregnant or had recently given birth and had been admitted to intensive care units (ICU) in Australia and New Zealand during the winter of 2009.

Of 209 women of child bearing age admitted to ICUs with swine flu, 64 (30.6%) were pregnant or had recenty given birth.

The results of the small study, published today in the British Medical Journal online, showed that women who were more than 20 weeks pregnant were 13 times more likely to be admitted to an ICU than the non-pregnant women who had swine flu.

Of these, 44 women (68.7%) needed ventilators to help them breathe, and nine also needed extra oxygen.

Overall seven (11%) of the mothers and seven (12%) of the babies died. None of the pregnant women had been vaccinated against the virus.

Dr Ian Seppelt from the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care (ANZIC) Influenza Investigators, who led the study said: “Although a mortality of 11% seems low when compared to usual outcomes of respiratory failure in intensive care … a maternal mortality of 11% is high when compared with any other obstetric condition.”

This article was published on Fri 19 March 2010



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