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CDC: Flu Drugs Should Be 1st Choice for Pregnant Women With Swine Flu
Date:5/14/2009

Rapid use of antivirals such as Tamiflu best for this high-risk group, agency says

THURSDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health officials said they're seeing some complications among pregnant women as the swine flu continues to spread across the country, and that this high-risk group needs to take antivirals as soon as infection is suspected.

"Pregnant women are at higher risk of complications of influenza, whether it's the seasonal influenza or pandemics of the past. We are also seeing some severe complications in women with this year's novel H1N1 virus," Dr. Anne Schuchat, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's interim deputy director for science and public health program, said during a Tuesday afternoon teleconference.

The CDC is investigating 20 cases of pregnant women with the swine flu, several of whom experienced complications, Schuchat said. Complications can include pneumonia, dehydration and premature birth.

"It is very important that doctors who are caring for pregnant women they suspect may have influenza, that they issue prompt treatment with antiviral medicines," she said.

Doctors can be reluctant to treat pregnant women with antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu and Relenza, and pregnant women may be reluctant to take them out of fear that they may pose a risk during pregnancy, Schuchat said. "Experts who have looked into this situation strongly say that the benefits of using antiviral drugs to treat influenza in a pregnant woman outweigh the theoretical concerns about the drugs," she said.

Of the three swine-flu related deaths in the United States, one involved a 33-year-old pregnant woman from Texas who had other health problems before she was infected with the virus.

Schuchat said Monday that federal health officials were shifting their focus from individual cases of infection to trying to project what is likely to occur with the virus in the fall. Becaus
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