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Flu more dangerous in pregnancy

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Reported by: Michelle Linn
Updated: 1/23 8:21 pm Published: 1/23 12:25 pm

Women who visit Contemporary Women's Specialists, in south Tulsa, can be uncomfortable, especially toward the end of their pregnancy.

"You know how you get the achy legs and back? (I) started having that, and I know, being pregnant, (I) probably needed to go to the doctor and get it taken care of," said Leslie Ferguson.

It wasn't just pregnancy aches and pains. Monday, Ferguson had a ton of congestion, her head was pounding, and she had a bad cough.

"The cough made it real hard, being pregnant, (my) belly was real sore. I was not expecting them to say, 'You have the flu," Ferguson said.

Doctors used to tell pregnant women not to get the flu shot until after their first trimester, but Dr. Heather Martin tells FOX23 News, about four years ago, the federal guidelines changed.

"I tell all of my pregnant patients, from the get-go, first trimester, second, third, get your flu shot -- absolutely get your flu shot," said Dr. Martin.

One woman, from Ft. Smith, Arkansas was told to wait until the end of her first trimester to get her flu shot. She came down with the flu earlier this month, and is now hospitalized on a ventilator, fighting for her life. She lost the baby.

The CDC says getting the flu can increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight. Pregnant women are five times more likely to end up in the ICU than non-pregnant women.

"I mean you can go in one day, test positive for the flu. Go in the next day and have pneumonia, and then the next day be in the hospital fighting for your life," Martin said.

Ferguson is fighting influenza-A, even though she got the flu shot at the start of flu season.

"I do think if I wouldn't have gotten my flu shot, it would've been much worse," Ferguson said.

"I was on call last weekend and had five pregnant patients page me with influenza-A, so it's out there," said Martin.

Martin tells us the vaccine she gives pregnant women is the killed virus. It's safe and she's going to continue urging her patients to get the flu shot, no matter what trimester they are in.

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