How flu season can impact expectant mothers

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Reported by: Brittany Jeffers
Updated: 1/15/2013 10:35 pm Published: 1/15/2013 6:39 pm

The threat of the influenza virus can be especially troubling for expectant mothers because the flu can affect two lives; mother and child.

“The flu season is upon us with a vengeance,” said Dr. James Ross with Saint Francis Hospital South in Tulsa. Dr. Ross specializes in family practices and strongly encourages pregnant mothers to get a flu shot this season.

“Women who are pregnant are three times more likely to have prolonged illness than non-pregnant patient,” said Dr. Ross.

Dr. Ross told FOX23 that it is safe for women to get the flu shot throughout their pregnancy and while they are breast feeding. Dr. Ross said that is also safe for expectant mothers to take the prescription medication Tamiflu within 48 hours of being diagnosed with the flu.

Lourdes Lopez is twenty weeks pregnant with her first child. She said that she chose to get the flu shot vaccination for her health and the health of her unborn baby.

“I didn’t want to take a chance of me getting really sick or causing harm to my baby,” said Lopez.

Hannah Gambe is expecting her first child in a week but she chose to not get the flu shot until after her son is born.

“I’ve been lucky that I have been healthy,” said Hannah, “I will probably get the flu right after.”

Dr. Ross says that flu shot is the best defense against the flu. He says that pregnant women are not advised to take the flu mist because it contains a live virus.

In addition to getting their annual “flu” shot, pregnant women can lower the risk of catching influenza by limiting contact with others who are sick, not touching the eyes, nose and mouth and washing hands with soap and water before touching others.

Over-the-counter medications can play a role in influenza treatment. Pharmacist at Economy Pharmacy in Tulsa, Chris Schiller, says that he has fielded a lot of questions about medications.

“Always check with your doctor when you are pregnant because you want to do everything by the book,” said Schiller.

Dr. Ross says that pregnant mothers should be mindful of the medications that they are taking and should check with their physicians to make sure that it is safe during pregnancy.

“Tylenol is very safe but we don't recommend Motrin, ibuprofen or cold combination medication,” said Dr. Ross.

The CDC recommends that everyone six months or older, including pregnant women, should be vaccinated against the influenza virus.

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