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H1N1 More Dangerous For Pregnant Women

July 29, 2009, 5:06 PM by Kelli Grant

H1N1 More Dangerous For Pregnant Women
The Center for Disease Control is making recommendations about who should be first to get H1N1 flu vaccines. Pregnant women will have the chance to be first in line when the new vaccine is released. A new study shows they are at a much higher risk of getting H1N1 because of reduced lung capacity and a weak immune system.

Seven months pregnant, Kellyann Williams has one more thing to worry about: H1N1.

"Well, I also have diabetes so I'm doubly at risk for contracting it. I know it's very severe," Williams said.

A new study says that pregnant women are at least four times as likely to be hospitalized with potentially deadly complications compared to others with the virus.

"Especially in the second and third trimester, there is reduced lung capacity and there's also changes in their immune systems which makes them more vulnerable to infections," Dr. Pascal James Imperato from the SUNY Downstate Medical Center said.

Now the CDC is putting pregnant women at the top of the list for the new flu vaccine and they hope to begin vaccinations by October.

"Because the swine flu is actually a totally new virus you actually need two vaccines. You need two shots in order to be protected," Dr. Frank Esper from the University Hospital of Cleveland said.

So far, pregnant women make up six percent of H1N1 flu deaths, even though they are only one percent of the American population.  Researchers urge mom's to be with flu-like symptoms to seek medical attention and start Tamiflu even before H1N1 is confirmed.

"It can be devastating.  You want to act as quickly as possible," Lori Tritto, a mother who had H1N1, said.

Six months pregnant, Tritto ended up in the ICU with H1N1.

"Get rest and stay away from areas where people might be sick," Tritto said. 

She warns all pregnant women to be especially vigilant when it comes to this dangerous virus.

The U.S. has had nearly 44,000 cases of H1N1 and 302 deaths. So far in South Dakota, there have been 48 cases and no deaths.

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