Pregnant women infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus, commonly referred to as swine flu, had a higher rate of hospitalization and greater risk of death than the general population, according to new data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Six deaths of pregnant women with the virus were reported to the CDC between April 15 and June 16, representing about 15% of the total 45 deaths reported to the Atlanta-based agency during that period. All were healthy before the infection, and they subsequently developed primary viral pneumonia leading to acute respiratory distress that required mechanical ventilation.
Results for the study, which will appear in the Aug. 8 issue of the British medical journal Lancet, reported that seasonal flu vaccine coverage among pregnant women is very low—less than 14%—despite recommendations from both the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for inactivated flu vaccine for all pregnant women.
“Clinicians who treat pregnant women should have a system in place for triaging pregnant women with influenza-like symptoms and they should not delay in initiating appropriate antiviral therapy,” Denise Jamieson, lead author of the study at the CDC, said in a news release.