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The flu vaccine and antivirals – Research into the dangers for pregnant women.
During the flu pandemic of 2009, authorities repeatedly urged pregnant women to get the flu vaccine and take anti-flu drugs in the event of getting sick, referring to that fact that these medicines are an important weapon against a virus that is particularly hard on pregnant woman. Pregnant women in fact were put in the same category of prioritization for treatment as adults over 65 and children younger than 2.
Now the Public Health Agency of Canada has commissioned a half million dollar study to record the long-term effects of the flu, anti-viral medicine and the flu vaccine on women who were pregnant during the pandemic, and the children born to these women since that time.
The government is funding a study that will be held in then university of Toronto and which will follow a group of women from six different provinces who were pregnant during the flu pandemic of 2009. The researchers will record their kid’s developmental progress until they are six months old.
Research done up to now on has shown no harm from the drugs, but there are concerns regarding the relative lack of information relating to the safety of both antivirals and the flu vaccine on pregnant women.
This research is particularly important, as the stats from 2009 show that pregnant women were much more susceptible than non-pregnant women to becoming seriously ill from the H1N1 virus.
There have been a limited number of studies done so far on the safety of the flu vaccine. The good news is that they have shown that there is no unusual risk for pregnant women. Up to now, such studies on the flu vaccine have been done on only relatively small samples of pregnant women.
It is of even greater importance for the Public Health Agency of Canada that research is carried out on antivirals for pregnant women. The antiviral of choice for pregnant women with suspected or confirmed H1N1 last year was Oseltamivir and Zanamivir. These are “Pregnancy Category C” medications, and are of particular concern because no clinical studies whatsoever have been held to evaluate the safety of these medications for expectant women.
Both Zanamivir and Oseltamivir have been shown to be an effective treatment against the flu, however some adverse side effects have been reported such as diarrhea, nausea, sinusitis, nasal signs and symptoms, bronchitis, cough, headache, dizziness, and ear, nose, and throat infections. Much more important, however, is to find out what possible effects the drugs have had on the un-born children.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
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