The H1N1 flu, better known by its alias "swine flu," is still wreaking havoc around the world.  Everyone is understandably concerned.  Every time I am on the phone with my parents and let out something with the slightest resemblance to a cough, they command me to go see a doctor immediately and have the H1N1 test administered.   The most recent report released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that flu activity has begun increasing again.  If you look at their actual data, however, it is a little comforting to see that the number of H1N1-positive tests has dropped in recent weeks as compared to a couple of months ago.  The fact remains that about 20% of the 5,000+ tests conducted just this week came back positive for the flu - and about 65% of those were specifically categorized as H1N1 flu.  Yikes.

Even more staggering are the statistics for pregnant women.  Women naturally have weakened immune systems during pregnancy, but the H1N1 flu appears to hit even harder than usual.  The CDC has stated that "6% of confirmed fatal 2009 H1N1 flu cases thus far have been in pregnant women while only about 1% of the general population is pregnant."  (You can read a summary of this study by CDC officials published in The Lancet, one of the leading medical journals in the world.)   History also tells us that with flu pandemics come increased numbers of spontaneous abortions and premature birthsBut have no fear! The H1N1 vaccine will be distributed very soon and pregnant women are atop the priority list.  Even better, it has been reported that just one shot seems to be protective, so the current vaccine production could potentially immunize twice as many people.

It was also reported this week that the U.S. and a cohort of other nations are planning to donate a portion of their vaccine supplies for the World Health Organization (WHO) to administer in poorer countries around the world.  There will undoubtedly be grumbling by some who do not want to share, but I applaud this decision.  Why shouldn't expectant mothers in other lands receive the same protection as expectant mothers here in the U.S., to be given the best possible chance to have a healthy child, and to be alive to see them grow?  I think we should be contributing as much as we can to the global control of this illness (and countless others!).  What is your opinion on this issue?

For more information from the CDC:

  • A CDC website dedicated to all things H1N1 flu
  • The CDC's Q&A page specifically for pregnant women worried about H1N1 flu

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Comments

From the CDC website.... "A number of clinical trials which test 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine in healthy children and adults are underway. These studies are being conducted by the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Studies of 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine in pregnant women are expected to begin in September." Considering the studies are not complete yet, I don't think I'll be getting H1N1 myself or for my daughter

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Just to play devil's advocate, I want to point out that the H1N1 cases that have popped up so far this season have been mild to moderate, not any worse than the regular flu. Of course, even the regular flu can kill, but I just want people to understand that the swine flu doesn't seem to be any worse that what we would normally see. I'm gonna leave that comment as I schedule a time to go get my regular flu shot! :P

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Hi, a great blog entry, very useful information and advice. Thanks, looking forward to you next blog entry!

My wife is pregnant and she is a teacher. I often get worried when she goes to work because there may be sick kids. This article reassured me.

One of the best ways to boost your immune system during pregnancy is exercise. I recommend * Walking - it is the easiest and cheapest exercise, and you can build it into your daily routine. Just wear comfortable clothing and shoes – no special equipment required. * Water aerobics - If you love the weightless feeling of being in water but don't want to swim, sign up for a water aerobics class (also a great way to meet other moms-to-be). Have a good pregnancy.

Very helpful post. I was traveling through Singapore when the H1N1 struck. Right now i'm in the process of writing an article about pregnancy and the harmful aspects of aspartame which is the sweetener used in all diet sugar free drinks. If you have any solid resource about the matter, it would be great if you could forward it to me. Thanks. Looking forward to you next article!

I definitely agree with you, pregnant women all over the world should be protected from the swine flu not just in certain countries. Luckily in the UK, pregnant women are also given the choice of taking the swine flu vaccine. It's really important for pregnant women to give their unborn the best possible chance. Thanks for the bolg, very informative.

Flu shots are good. But we should always remember that the first line of defense against the spread of viruses is cleanliness. Don't forget to wash your hands frequently!

Boy, if women that are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant haven't gotten the H1N1 vaccine, what are they waiting for. This has to be one of the most preventable illnesses when vaccinated and the thought of losing your baby because you didn't get this vaccine is sickening. All women and young ladies need to know this information.

WOW! What a great information. I am very late to find out this report, but worth a read. Very knowledgeable. I never thought about a tiny relationship between H1N1 with pregnancy, but Alison made me think about this. Though by the grace of God H1N1 now seems to lower down. Most important thing is that there is now vaccine available for Swine Flu.

There doesn't seem to be much discussion about swine flu anymore. I wonder if that is related to it's ability to change with the passage of time. I hope there will come a time when vaccines are able to eradicate future strains that come along.

Some great information. But i keep asking myself. Was H1N1 really that dangerous or was it just like a regular flu. Anyway it is good it is on it's way back and just hope it stays away. I will recomend this post for my readers.

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I do wonder and have concern over any manner of vaccines with pregnant women. Wouldn't it be a safer alternative to consult with one's care giver at the on set of a potential event and treat with OTC and/or alternative methods?

The Newspaper headlines here in the UK are saying that there's going to be a terrible H1N1 flu epidemic this winter - but I'm hoping it's just the usual "trying to sell a newspaper" hype that we've heard before.I've already had a mild case last winter as have most of my family - so I hope nothing much more comes of it.

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Great post and a timely one as winter again approaches. As a teacher of mother and baby swimming classes and ante natal swimming lessons I often come across amazing stories of how resilient mothers and babies are. However it is always good to get relevant info like yours so we can better decide what action to take.

Very Useful information , this is both good reading for, have quite a few good key points, and I learn some new stuff from it too, thanks for sharing your information.

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