CDC: Pregnant women at high risk from flu

June 6, 2011 7:30:47 PM PDT
Federal health officials are warning of serious dangers for pregnant women who get the flu.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is gearing up for the next flu season, and CDC medical officer Dr. Denise Jamieson says there's clear and consistent evidence of severe risks for pregnant women.

Jamieson says pregnant women who get the flu are "more likely to end up in an intensive care unit or even to die."

There are many reasons, but Jamieson -- an obstetrician-gynecologist -- says two big ones are changes in the immune system and physical changes to the uterus that stretches and pushes on the lungs.

On the bright side, Jamieson says immunization can protect not only the mom but also the baby -- even after birth. She says newborns can't be vaccinated but do get the benefit of the vaccine from their moms during pregnancy.

The CDC has published a special supplement on influenza and pregnant women in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.