Pregnant Women At Highest Risk For H1N1

by Katie Jeffries on September 6, 2009

The H1N1 death of a 20-year-old pregnant woman from Columbus is raising concerns for other pregnant women.

Doctors confirm that pregnant women have the highest attack rate of the H1N1 virus.

“Well pregnant women have decreased immunity because they are carrying a baby. They are also doing the work for two and they are more stressed, so they are more vulnerable and they just cannot recover like an average person can,” explains Dr. Vicki Whitacre the Medical Director of the Zanesville/Muskingum County Health Department.

The Columbus woman’s baby was delivered by emergency C-section and shows no signs of H1N1. Dr. Whitacre says she has seen two cases where a pregnant mother has H1N1, but the baby is born without the virus.

“Possibly there is something in the placenta that keeps the virus from being passed, we don’t know that yet, we don’t have enough cases or experience to know. It is just like I catch a cold and maybe my husband catches a cold, but all the children in the household don’t get it. It is just who gets enough of a dose and if their immune system is susceptible enough to get the infection,” tells Dr. Whitacre.

It is recommended for pregnant mothers to get both the regular flu shot and the H1N1 flu shot.

“The American College of Obstetrics and gynecology is definitely informing their doctors that are OBGYN doctors that they need to be telling their pregnant ladies that they need to get the flu shot. The regular seasonal flu shot and that they think the H1N1 flu shot is going to be OK for them also and they are going to be recommending that,” says Dr. Whitacre.

Pregnant women who develop a fever, headaches or a sore throat should see a doctor immediately.

Katie Jeffries