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CDC Emphasizes Importance of Flu Vaccine for Pregnant Women

2009 H1N1 data confirm vaccination and early treatment can save lives

THURSDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Influenza can result in dire outcomes for pregnant women and their newborns; proper vaccination and early treatment are critical for optimizing maternal and offspring health, according to a report published in the Sept. 9 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Kimberly Newsome, M.P.H., of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data on influenza in pregnant and postpartum women reported to the CDC during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic to estimate maternal and infant outcomes in this patient population.

The researchers found that, among 347 pregnant women who were severely ill, 75 died. The 272 survivors received antiviral treatment sooner after onset of symptoms than those who died. Infants born to women with severe influenza who delivered during their hospital stay were more likely to be premature and of lower birth weight than infants in the general population.

"These data document the severe effects of 2009 H1N1 on pregnant women and their infants, emphasize the importance of vaccinating pregnant women against influenza, and demonstrate the value of prompt administration of antivirals to pregnant women with suspected or confirmed influenza," the authors write.

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