Dangers of H1N1 for pregnant women

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Pregnant women are a big risk group for H1N1 because of their compromised immune systems.  Doctors say there are a lot of pregnant women right now in Region 8, many of them due to deliver in the next month.

"It has never scared me before because you hear so many stories about it.  Now that I am pregnant it really does concern me," said Misty Turner.

Turner is 23 weeks pregnant with a six year old at home.  She worries about getting the flu and about getting the shot, but said she will do whatever her doctor recommends.

"I tell them that it's in their best interest and the interest of their children to go ahead and get a flu vaccine," said Chimere Ashley.

In addition to treating patients, Dr. Ashley is also pregnant.  She said she has already had the flu shot and will get the H1N1 shot as soon as she can.

"You have a fetus that's there that you have to help support so that brings your immune status down so you have a harder time fighting off infections," said Dr. Ashley.

She said getting it is necessary to protect yourself and your baby.

"If mom gets sick, baby gets sick too," Dr. Ashley.

Dr. Shane Speights said he knows of pregnant women that have ended up in the intensive care unit.

"Even down at UAMS as little as a  week ago, there were seven women down in the intensive care unit that were having to be cared for around the clock from complications to influenza H1N1," said Dr. Speights.

He said both vaccines are completely safe in pregnancy.  However you have to get the shot because the nasal form is the live virus and can be dangerous for pregnant women.

"There's a lot of misinformation being circulated and that's unfortunate because a lot of people who need this vaccination are not getting it because of fear," said Speights.

"My main concern is making sure my baby is healthy," said Turner.

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