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Pregnant women are at high risk of catching the flu

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Medical research shows that pregnant women are more likely to develop severe illness if infected from the flu versus non-pregnant women.

Health experts explain that when a woman is pregnant, her body's immune system is focused mainly on the development of the baby, which leaves her body more susceptible to germs and viruses.

Jacquie Cutts, the Public Health Nursing manager for the La Crosse County Health Department, said flu season peaks around February and January.

"Because the peak of flu season is here, that means that the risk of having adverse outcomes is going to go up, so pregnant women or anybody else who doesn't have a flu shot, now would be the time to get it," Cutts said. "It is not too late to get the flu shot, its important to do so because it protects yourself, children, and everybody else in your household and community."

Medical research shows that some of the significant complications influenza can cause are pneumonia, asthma attacks, organ failure, and more.

"Anytime someone contracts the flu, it's possible to have complications from it, and there are people every year who die from it," said Cutts.

Medical research shows the flu shot is safe for the mother and the baby.

"When a woman is pregnant, anything that affects the mom is going to affect baby, so its important that moms protect themselves and also pass that immunity on," said Cutts.

Newborns cannot get a flu immunization until six months of age; this can leave the child vulnerable. Pregnant women can get the flu shot any time, during any trimester, and doctors also say the flu shot is safe for breastfeeding women and their infants.

Doctors highly recommend those who are feeling flu-like symptoms, to seek medical care within 48 hours. When someone is tested and turns out they have the flu, doctors will prescribe the appropriate antiviral medication to make the illness milder.

Kathy Errthum, an OB-GYN at Mayo Clinic Health System, said she understands that some people may steer away from getting a flu shot because they may feel squeamish toward needles, but said she assures all of her patients that the positive will always out-way the bad.

"Every woman that I meet wants to do the best they can for themselves, for their family and their children," Errthum said. "I strongly believe that women care about who they are taking care of, and the best way they can take care of others is to be healthy themselves."

The most recent figures from the CDC show there have been 15 flu-related deaths this season in Wisconsin and one pediatric death. It is not clear if any of those adults were pregnant.

Lindsey Ford

Lindsey Ford is a multi-media journalist.

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