Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Font Size

Pregnancy Raises Swine Flu Death Risk

Healthy Pregnant Women at Risk of H1N1 Swine Flu Death, Hospitalization
WebMD Health News

July 29, 2009 - Pregnant women, even if they are healthy, are at high risk of hospitalization and death from H1N1 swine flu, the CDC reports.

A CDC analysis shows that pregnant women are more likely than the general population to develop severe disease after infection with the pandemic H1N1 swine flu virus. They are four times more likely to be hospitalized, with an unusually high death rate.

Swine Flu Outbreak: Get the Facts

Swine Flu Slideshow

Learn more about the H1N1 swine flu and see what you can do to stay healthy.

View the slideshow.

Although media reports have focused on deaths among pregnant women with underlying disease, most pregnant women who have died of swine flu were healthy when they caught the pandemic virus.

Even so, the findings do not mean that all pregnant women will suffer severe disease, says study leader Denise J. Jamieson, MD, MPH, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the CDC's Women's Health and Fertility branch.

"Most women who become ill with flu are going to have mild disease just like in the general population," Jamieson tells WebMD. "But it does seem pregnant women are at increased risk of severe illness and death. So the proportion of deaths among pregnant women is larger than you would expect."

The CDC has details on 266 of the 305 U.S. swine flu deaths reported as of July 29. Fifteen of these 266 deaths -- about 6% -- were among pregnant women. Most of the deaths were among women in their third trimester.

Pandemic Flu Deaths in Pregnant Women Not New

It's not a new phenomenon:

• During seasonal flu epidemics, pregnant women -- especially those in the third trimester -- are far more likely to be hospitalized for lung and heart disease than women who recently delivered a child (considered the closest comparison group).

• In a study of 1,350 women who had flu during the 1918 pandemic, about half the women got pneumonia and about half of the women with pneumonia died -- a case-fatality rate of 27%. Women in their third trimester were particularly vulnerable.

• During the 1957 flu pandemic, pregnant women accounted for half of the flu deaths among Minnesota women of reproductive age.

There's also a risk to the fetus. In past pandemics, there were high rates of stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, and premature delivery among pregnant women who had the flu. Flu comes with fever, which can result in brain damage to the fetus.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
cold weather
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Boy holding ear
woman receiving vaccine shot
woman with fever
Waking up from sleep
woman with sore throat