CLEVELAND – The flu is dangerous enough for the average person, but it’s especially dangerous for moms-to-be.
According to Rebecca Starck, M.D., a women’s health physician at Cleveland Clinic, when a pregnant woman gets the flu, it can be dangerous for both mom and baby.
“The pregnant woman has a change in her immune system, a change in her lung capacity; her cardiovascular system, that can really cause a much more severe course of flu for the mother, if she contracts influenza during pregnancy,” said Dr. Starck.
A pregnant woman can be at an increased risk of complications like dehydration and can even die from flu complications.
Getting the flu can also put her at risk of pre-term labor and put the baby at risk for pre-term birth.
Dr. Starck said the best way for pregnant women to protect themselves is to get the flu vaccine.
She said regardless of their trimester, the flu vaccine is the safest and most effective way to protect them against flu.
And the flu vaccine helps baby too.
Dr. Starck said that mom’s immunity to flu is passed onto the baby and helps protect an infant until they are able receive the vaccine at six months of age.
She said it’s also important to use precautionary measures when in public places.
“Be compulsive about washing your hands, anywhere and everywhere,” said Dr. Starck. “Carry a little bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket, in your purse, and just use it anytime you’re in public places. Be aware of coughs and people who are coughing.”
Dr. Starck said that in addition to getting vaccinated and practicing good hand-washing, pregnant women need to make sure they get enough fluids, get good nutrition and plenty of rest at all times.