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H1N1 flu death rates higher among pregnant women

April 21, 2010 |  6:00 am

Romo20 Pregnant women who were infected with H1N1 influenza last year had a much higher risk of dying from complications of the illness compared with other groups, government researchers reported Tuesday.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that, during the five-month peak of the outbreak from April through August, 5% of H1N1 deaths were among pregnant women although they account for only 1% of the population.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., supports previous research that found H1N1 is particularly dangerous during the third trimester of pregnancy. Taken together, the research leaves no doubt about the value of H1N1 flu vaccination for all pregnant women and rapid treatment with antiviral medications (TamiFlu) as soon as flu symptoms become apparent.

The dozens of young women who died in 2009 left behind grieving families who can scarcely believe how a healthy wife and mother could be taken so swiftly. A story on one such family, who live in Santa Ana, was published earlier this year in the Los Angeles Times.

-- Shari Roan

Photo: A memorial to a Santa Ana woman who developed H1N1 flu while pregnant and later died. Photo credit: Don Barletti  /  Los Angeles Times