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Can Swine flu adversely affect the fetus?

Q: I am 31 years old pregnant woman presently in my 2 trimester. I will be travelling overseas in a fortnight’s time but I am scared about the swine flu. I want to know what adverse effects it can have on the fetus if the mother is affected and the effect of its medicine on the baby and the mother. Please clarify since I am in great stress as my travelling date is approaching.

A:H1N1 virus spreads easily from person-to-person. Like seasonal flu, certain people may be at higher risk of severe illness including persons with certain chronic medical conditions, persons aged 65 or older, children younger than 5 years old and pregnant women. Common symptoms of novel H1N1 flu include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, diarrhoea, and vomiting. To avoid getting infected avoid close contact with others and avoid traveling. However this is inevitable in your case so while traveling wear a mask, for H1N1 virus N-95 masks are recommended, however if you cannot get hold of them use triple layer disposable surgical masks while at airport and during flight. Coming to second part of question regarding treatment if you get infected. Pregnant women who are probable or confirmed cases of novel influenza A (H1N1) should receive chemoprophylactic antiviral treatment with zanamivir or oseltamivir as soon as possible. Oseltamivir and zanamivir treatment and chemoprophylaxis regimens recommended for pregnant women are the same as those recommended for adults who have seasonal influenza. Oseltamivir and zanamivir are “Pregnancy Category C” medications, indicating that no clinical studies have been conducted to assess the safety of these medications for pregnant women. Because of the unknown effects of influenza antiviral drugs on pregnant women and their fetuses, oseltamivir or zanamivir should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the embryo or fetus. Although a few adverse effects have been reported in pregnant women who took these medications, no relation between the use of these medications and those adverse events has been established. Please consult your physician before medication. So, don’t worry, wear face mask during travel and try to remain cool and calm.

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