Pregnancy: why so many deaths?

2009-08-24 00:00

A STUDY published in the July 29 issue of the British medical journal The Lancet confirms that pregnant women are at especially high risk of complications from H1N1 influenza.

“Pregnant women who have been infected with H1N1 influenza have had a higher rate of hospitalisation, about a fourfold increase, compared with the general population, and a higher proportion than expected of the deaths were among pregnant women,” wrote Denise J. Jamieson.

There are two possible reasons why pregnant women should be more susceptible. One is as pregnancy advances a woman’s diaphragm is pushed upward. This decreases lung capacity and makes respiratory diseases more dangerous system changes focus, moving away from those immune responses that are most effective at keeping viral infections at bay. Consequently a pregnant woman is more prone to some viral diseases such as swine flu.

However, the British National Health Service website says most expectant mothers who get swine flu will only exhibit mild symptoms and recover in a short time, usually within a week.

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