It is universally accepted among health care workers that pregnant women are six times more likely to contract swine flu, or any other form of influenza, and risk developing complications at later stages of pregnancy.
Physicians point out that it is very important for women to be very cautious during ante-natal stage.
The anatomical changes that women experience during pregnancy lead to reduced lung, respiratory and chest compliance, making them a high-risk group for any kind of respiratory infections.
When they come in contact with H1N1, their health condition, including that of the foetus, becomes a medical complication hard to manage.
Pregnant women usually take a longer time to recover, even from common cold.
“The condition becomes complicated if would-be mothers are diabetic and hypertensive. It is very difficult to help such pregnant woman recover from H1N1 because they deteriorate pretty fast,” says professor of pulmonology K. Subhakar.
So what is the most fool-proof system to protect would-be mothers?
“I simply advise them not to venture out, or visit large gatherings during pregnancy. We even tell them not to consume outside food because it could be infectious. Vaccination is an option, but I would suggest an inactive swine flu vaccine,” says former superintendent of Osmania General Hospital (OGH) and senior gynaecologist P. Balamba.
Doctors point out that expectant mothers usually travel long distances to reach their native towns for deliveries, which is fraught with risk.
“This is when they get careless and are prone to infections. It is best to avoid public areas like railway stations, bus terminals and even airports,” says swine-flu coordinator at the Gandhi Hospital, Dr. K. Narasimhulu.
Doctors even go to the extent of urging families of pregnant women not to host or organise get-together programmes and organise rituals and cultural programmes to celebrate pregnancy.
“During such rituals, a large number of guests are invited and they come in direct contact with pregnant women. There have been instances in the past when expectant mothers tested positive for H1N1 immediately after such social events,” Dr. Subhakar adds.
M. Sai Gopal