"Doctors around the country have never seen this kind of thing before," CDC
respiratory disease chief Anne Schuchat, MD, said today at a news conference.
"What we are seeing is quite striking."
The CDC has never before tracked the impact of flu on pregnant women.
Although flu is a known risk both to a pregnant woman and to her fetus, it's
not known for sure that H1N1 swine flu is any worse.
But that's the impression doctors are getting. Schuchat said that
obstetricians at the CDC are in close contact with colleagues across the
"The obstetric caregivers here and the ones they are speaking with have
rarely seen this kind of thing in practice," Schuchat said. "It has been very
Fortunately, there's a lot pregnant women can do.
Even though pregnant women are advised to avoid many medications, the flu
drug Tamiflu is safe for pregnant women -- and should be given to them at the
first sign of flu symptoms.
"Antiviral medicine can be a very important treatment for pregnant women who
have respiratory symptoms or influenza-like illness," Schuchat said.
Moreover, the H1N1 swine flu vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine -- the
kinds that are given as a shot, not the kind given as a nasal spray -- are safe
for use during pregnancy. Obstetricians and nurse midwives are urged to play a
"As the vaccine becomes available in appropriate formulations, we hope
pregnant women and their caregivers will be taking advantage of it," Schuchat
said. "We encourage caregivers to either vaccinate pregnant women or refer them
to a place they can be vaccinated."