Official calls the number 'upsetting'; flu shots and antiviral drugs urged for moms-to-be
THURSDAY, Oct. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Twenty-eight pregnant women in the United States had died from H1N1 swine flu as of the end of August, and 100 pregnant women had been hospitalized in intensive care, federal health officials said Thursday.
While the officials said they've never tracked deaths of pregnant women from seasonal flu, the number of deaths from the H1N1 flu could be significant.
"These are really upsetting numbers," Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during an afternoon press conference.
"We have obstetricians here at CDC who are coordinating the outreach as well as the surveillance efforts around it," she said. "And they're talking to doctors around the country who have never seen this kind of thing before. We don't track seasonal flu. We haven't in the past tracked seasonal flu complications in pregnancy. But what we are seeing is quite striking."
Schuchat said it's not yet clear whether there is something different about the H1N1 flu's effect on pregnant women, or whether researchers are noticing its effect on pregnant women more because the virus is being monitored closely.
"But I think the obstetric caregivers here and the ones that we're speaking with have rarely seen this kind of thing in practice," she said.
Schuchat urged pregnant women to get both the seasonal flu vaccine and the H1N1 swine flu vaccine, which will be available starting next week. Seasonal flu vaccines are already available.
"We encourage caregivers to vaccinate pregnant women or refer them to a place where they can be vaccinated," she said.
She also stressed that women, doctors and nurse midwives should remember that "antiviral medicine [such as Tamiflu] can be a very important treat
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