Stay Healthy Throughout Your Pregnancy


Never thought of yourself as high-risk, health wise? If you’re pregnant during flu season, consider yourself on the list. And, even if it’s been years since you’ve had the flu—that classic seasonal illness that brings on the “I-feel-like-I’ve-been-hit-by-a-truck-how-can-anything-hurt-this-much?” symptoms of fever, aching muscles and extraordinary fatigue—the time is now to take action to keep you and your baby healthy.

Here’s why: About one in five people—adults and children—get the seasonal flu each year. You might tough it out at home or you might find yourself one of the more than 200,000 people hospitalized each year with flu-related complications, such as dehydration, bacterial or viral pneumonia, infections of the brain and spinal cord, Reye syndrome, heart conditions or seizures (a flu-related complication for children). If you are pregnant or have a chronic health condition like congestive heart failure, asthma or other lung diseases or diabetes, you’re particularly susceptible to complications associated with flu.

Then there’s the simple—but scary—fact that every year about 36,000 people in the United States die from seasonal flu.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone age 6 months and older as the most important step in protecting against flu. The flu vaccine protects against the three flu viruses that research will be most prevalent each year. The 2013-14 standard trivalent vaccine will protect against influenza A (H1N1, also known as swine flu), an influenza A virus (H3N2) and an influenza B virus. There is also a new quadrivalent vaccine that will be available in limited quantities this year that will protect against those strains, plus an additional B virus. If you’re allergic to eggs, talk to your health care provider. The standard flu vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women with severe egg allergies, but you may be able to get an egg-free vaccine.

Pregnant women have had four times the rate of hospitalizations for H1N1 as the rest of the population in previous years, so it’s important to get a vaccine this year if you are pregnant or think you may become pregnant during the flu season.

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