Medical Question: Flu and Pregnancy

Bonnie asks:

My question has to do with one of my characters who gets a deadly form of influenza (swine and avian flu combined) early in her pregnancy. She winds up in the ICU. She survives but then discovers she’s pregnant. She worried about the baby.

What are the possible dangers to the baby?
Heidi says:
The flu is actually more dangerous to the pregnant woman herself than to the fetus. Most women and healthcare providers delay preventative and treatment of the flu because they fear possible effects on the baby. More women in their third trimester of pregnancy die of the flu, than anything else including accidents and domestic violence.
Untreated flu symptoms that can and usually do send pregnant woman to the ICU include such things as high fevers, dehydration, and viral infections. The effects on the fetus include an increase in still births, brain damage, premature birth, and spontaneous abortion. Woman early in pregnancy are at greatest risk for spontaneous abortion. This would be the case for your patient. Treatment of the flu (antiviral’s), is the best thing for this patient, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.
I encourage all pregnant patients to get the flu shot and to call their health care provider immediately for flu like symptoms. Tamiflu and Relenza work best when given within the first 48 hours of flu symptoms. Always your best defense is a good offense, get your flu shot.
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Adelheideh Creston lives in New York. She is former military and married military as well. Her grandmother was a WAVE and inspired her to become a nurse. Heidi spent some time as a certified nursing assistant, then an LPN, working in geriatrics, med surge, psych, telemetry and orthopedics. She’s been an RN several years with a specialty in labor and delivery and neonatology. Her experience has primarily been with military medicine, but she has also worked in the civilian sector.

Heidi is an avid reader. She loves Christian fiction mysteries and suspense. Though, don’t recommend the gory graphic stuff to her… please. She enjoys writing her own stories and is yet unpublished. 

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