Flu revealed to be cause of death in one in 11 pregnant women in UK as Northamptonshire health experts issue warning

Picture: Jo Sunner
Picture: Jo Sunner

Expectant mothers in Northamptonshire are being urged to get a flu jab after the virus was revealed to be the cause of death in one in 11 pregnant women across the UK.

The report, carried out by Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK (MBRRACE-UK) found that flu was the cause of death in one in 11 pregnant women between 2009 and 2012.

The risk of serious complications and death from flu is increased in pregnant women compared with other healthy adults.

If caught during pregnancy, the virus can lead to stillbirth, prematurity and low birth weight. Although new-born babies cannot be protected by the vaccine, they gain some protection from serious infection for the first few weeks of life if their mother was vaccinated during pregnancy.

Councillor Robin Brown, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for Public Health and Wellbeing, has advised pregnant women get vaccinated quickly.

He said: “I urge all pregnant women to make sure they get a flu vaccination to help protect themselves – and their babies - from this nasty virus and avoid the increased risk of complications arising as a result of flu.

“It’s not a live vaccine and it cannot give you flu, but despite this 64% of pregnant women in Northamptonshire have not had the flu vaccine yet this winter. I hope all pregnant women, and anyone else who is eligible, gets their free flu vaccination as soon as possible. Just contact your GP or pharmacy to make an appointment.”

Free flu vaccinations are offered to groups most at risk of complications, including older people, the very young, pregnant women and those with a health condition. Children aged between 2 and 4 are eligible for the newly available nasal spray vaccination. Most healthy people recover quickly from the disease.