Pregnant Women at Higher Risk for Influenza-Associated Hospitalization

FEBRUARY 17, 2019
Jared Kaltwasser
Women who are pregnant face a higher risk of influenza-related hospitalization, no matter the trimester, new research has found.

Investigators from New Zealand, partnering with colleagues from the CDC, wanted to get a better sense of the extent to which pregnant women are affected by influenza versus the general population. Writing in The Journal of Infectious Disease, they noted that pregnant women tend to be treated as high-priority patients when it comes to influenza prevention and treatment, but they said there is relatively little evidence clarifying exactly how outcomes differ for pregnant women versus nonpregnant women.

The team examined data from the Southern Hemisphere Influenza and Vaccine Effectiveness Research and Surveillance (SHIVERS) project, covering the years 2012-2015. The results showed pregnant women were indeed at a higher risk when it comes to influenza.

The team found 46 of 260 (17.7%) confirmed influenza-associated acute respiratory infection hospitalizations involved a pregnant women. Among outpatient flu visits, 13 of 294 (4.4%) were for pregnant women.

Altogether, pregnant women and postpartum women had more than 3 times the risk of influenza-related hospitalization (risk ratio, 3.4) compared to nonpregnant women. Women in the third trimester had the highest risk (risk ratio, 4.8). However, when postpartum women were singled out, their risk of hospitalization was no greater than that of nonpregnant women.

The CDC and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommend that all women, including those who are pregnant, be vaccinated against influenza.

A version of this article was originally published by MD Magazine. View the full article at