Fighting flu: what needs to be done
Contracting a virus while pregnant can have catastrophic consequences. Louise Silverton highlights the importance of vaccinations for mothers and their unborn babies
As autumn approaches my thoughts turn, not to the new school term or autumn leaves but to the subject of vaccination. Perhaps not what you thought I would say but, as midwives, we have access to a simple public health intervention to improve our own health and that of the mothers and babies for whom we care.
Why is flu such a risk for in pregnancy? Pregnant women especially in the third trimester are at significantly greater risk from flu than the wider population. A US study of the 2009 H1N1 outbreak showed a four-fold increase in serious illness and five-fold in hospital admission. (Oxford vaccine knowledge project, 2019). MBRRACE (2014) showed that in that same outbreak in the UK there were 36 deaths during or shortly after pregnancy. There are also risks for the baby with four times more the number of preterm births and increases in both stillbirth and neonatal death. For pregnant women and their unborn babies, flu is not a minor illness. Midwives play a key role in encouraging women to have the flu vaccine. It has been shown to be safe if the circulating strains are correctly identified.
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