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Flu and pregnancy: Is antiviral medication safe?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/flu-and-pregnancy/AN02177
- With Mayo Clinic obstetrician and medical editor-in-chief
Roger W. Harms, M.D.read biographyclose window
Roger W. Harms, M.D.Roger W. Harms, M.D.
"Nothing helps people stay healthy more than the power of real knowledge about health." — Dr. Roger Harms
As medical director of content, Dr. Roger Harms is excited about the potential for Mayo Clinic's health information site to help educate people about their health and provide them the tools and information to live healthier lives.
The Auburn, Neb., native has been with Mayo Clinic since 1981 and is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Harms is a practicing physician and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and his specialty areas include office gynecology, high-risk obstetrics and obstetrical ultrasound.
From 2002 to 2007, Dr. Harms was director for education at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dr. Harms was the 1988 Mayo Medical School Teacher of the Year and served as associate dean for student affairs and academic affairs. He is the co-author of the "Mayo Clinic Model of Education." In 2008, Dr. Harms was presented the Distinguished Educator Award, Mayo Clinic, Rochester.
Dr. Harms is vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and medical editor of the Pregnancy section on this website. In addition, Dr. Harms is editor-in-chief of the "Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy" book, a month-by-month guide to everything a woman needs to know about having a baby.
"My medical education experience has grown out of a love of teaching, and that is what this site is about," Dr. Harms says. "If any visitor to this site makes a more informed and thus more comfortable decision about his or her health because of the information we provide, we are successful."
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Flu and pregnancy: Is antiviral medication safe?
Is antiviral flu medication safe during pregnancy?
from Roger W. Harms, M.D.
In most cases, the benefits of antiviral flu (influenza) medication during pregnancy outweigh the risks.
During pregnancy, the flu poses a serious threat to your health and your baby's health. Pregnancy increases your risk of developing serious complications of the flu, such as pneumonia. In turn, flu complications increase the risk of preterm labor, premature birth and other pregnancy problems.
Although it's important to be cautious with any medication during pregnancy, research supports the safety of prescription antiviral medication — such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) — to treat flu during pregnancy.
If you're pregnant and have signs or symptoms of the flu, contact your health care provider right away. He or she will help you decide if an antiviral medication is right for you.
If your health care provider prescribes an antiviral medication, remember that the medication is most effective when taken within 48 hours of the first signs or symptoms — although benefits are still possible if the medication is taken later.
If you have a fever, your health care provider might recommend taking acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) as well. Some studies have shown an increased risk of neural tube defects — serious abnormalities of the brain or spinal cord — in the babies of women who experience high fevers during the first four to six weeks of pregnancy.
Remember, a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your baby from the dangers of the flu during pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a flu shot for anyone who's pregnant during flu season — typically November through January or later — unless you've had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccination.
When you get your flu shot, be sure to request the flu shot and not the nasal spray vaccine. The flu shot is made from an inactivated virus, so it's safe for both mother and baby during any stage of pregnancy. The nasal spray vaccine is made from a live virus, which makes it less appropriate during pregnancy or while you're trying to conceive.Next question
Antibiotics and pregnancy: What's safe?
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- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; 2010:41.