Special precautions during infancy, pregnancy, and breastfeeding
According to Dr. Sara Philps, King County (Seattle) Group Health general practicioner, the next few days will be important in determining the spread and impact of H1N1 virus. "We really don't know a lot about how it is spread or its affects. Antiviral medication appear effective in lessening symptoms. Follow typical healthy behaviors such as handwashing and try to stay out of public places. I suggest that families with young children and pregnant women stock up and stay home as much as is possible for the next week to ten days."
Pregnant women are especially at risk for complications from the H1N1 flu virus and shouldn't hesitate to use antiviral drugs if they even think they might be infected, doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say.
Health officials are investigating 20 cases of infected pregnant women, several of whom had severe complications, says the CDC's Anne Schuchat. Pregnancy doesn't necessarily increase your risk for getting the swine flu -- or any other type of flu. If you do get the flu while you are pregnant, studies show you are up to five times more likely to suffer serious complications such as pneumonia.
High fevers in the mother during pregnancy present a risk to your baby. Sustained body temperature over 101 degrees increase the risk of miscarriage and lead to an increased risk of neural tube defects in your baby.
There are things you can do to prevent these problems if you get the flu. The control your fever. The March of Dimes recommends acetaminophen (Tylenol) but talk to your doctor first to make certain it's okay for you. Drink plenty of fluids and use cool compresses to lower body temperature.
Keep taking your prenatal vitamins. Studies conducted at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities in England, found that women who took a multi vitamin high in folic acid during pregnancy decreased their baby's risk of birth defects, even if they ran a fever while pregnant.
The two antiviral medication used to treat H1N1, Tamiflu and Relenza, are ranked by the FDA as Category C drugs, meaning they have not been tested for use during pregnancy. There have not been any cases of birth defects or other serious health concerns linked to the use of these drugs in pregnant women who have used them. If symptoms are severe, your doctor might suggest a course of either drug, and if this is the case, experts say don't be fearful. Do ask questions so that you do fully understand that the benefits do outweigh any possible risks.
Whether mom or child is sick, there is no need to interrupt or discontinue breastfeeding. If the child is sick, breastfeeding will likely be the best way to increase fluids by allowing the infant to nurse as much as possible. Also, the benefits of breastfeeding continue, including immune help from the breastmilk.
If mom is sick, since an individual is contagious before symptoms appear then your child has already been exposed. Discontinuing breastfeeding at this point (unless the illness becomes severe enough that you are hospitalized, will not likely hold any benefit for your child. For breastfeeding mom it is even more important to stay as hydrated as possible. Ice chips will help with hydration if water alone makes you feel nauseaous
In most children, the symptoms of H1N1 (swine flu) are similar to the symptoms of regular flu. Young children may not have typical symptoms, but may have difficulty breathing and low activity. Little is known about how H1N1 (swine flu) may affect children. However, it is thought the infection may be similar to other flu infections.