Why are Pregnant Women a priority group for H1N1 vaccination?

by redblossom on November 9, 2009

The CDC reports that 28 pregnant women have died since H1N1 flu erupted.  That represents 6% of the population of people who have died, whereas pregnant women only represent 1% of the population in general. All 28 pregnant women who died had asthma or were obese.

Ruby in Bili-Lamp.

Pregnant women may be at greater risk of dying from the flu for several reasons that we actually understand, and probably others we don’t.

#1) In the third trimester (when most deaths have occurred), there is less space in the lungs because the baby is large enough to prevent deep inhalation.

#2) The immune system works by differentiating self from not-self, and attacking not-self.  In pregnancy, many marvelous things must happen in the immune system to allow the baby (not-self) to take root and grow.  The immune system cell types that fight flu (called Th1[i]) are decreased in pregnancy while the allergy/asthma/parasite cells (called Th2[ii]) proliferate.  This means that pregnant women have less protection from viruses.  Thus, the virus H1N1 can burrow deeper into the lung tissue and cause a bigger mess to clean up.

Red Blossom Speculations: Pregnant women who have asthma have immune system disorders that further shift the immune cell types to be Th2 dominant, therefore have even less Th1 cell type to fight off infection – add the diminished lung health with asthma and it makes perfect sense these are the women most at risk of death by flu. It is likely there are similar connections to be made in the case of obesity – but this is less clear to me.

In all, 28 deaths from H1N1 in pregnancy does not seem that “pandemic” to me.  Of course, it does if it happens to you or someone you love.

If you are pregnant and want to avoid the vaccinations:

  • Check your 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. If they are below 60ng/mL, supplement with 2,000 IU/day.  If you live in a cloud covered environment (not Hawaii, California or Florida), supplement with 1,000IU/day even if your levels are good.
  • Read my Post dated Oct 21, 2009 for Flu Prevention and Treatment.       Summary: Beta-carotene, Echinacea, Elderberry, Vitamin C, Fermented Foods and Beverages, Homeopathic Gelsimium and Oscilliococcinum
  • Make an aspersion when you feel afraid of the news or the flu. Find a fresh aromatic plant, such as Rosemary.  As you pick 2-3 sprigs, remember your gratitude for the plant and your intention to create a shield from fear or illness. Mish and mash the rosemary with your hands in a small bowl of water until the aroma fills the air. Take a sprig and sprinkle yourself with the water, washing away the fear and fortifying the shield you visualize.
  • Ruby and the Rose
  • Avoid Air Travel and airports
  • Wash your hands well and often
  • If you get sick, go to the doctor straight away.  Although the use of Tamiflu has not been well studied for safety in pregnancy, it will help to prevent the virus from sinking deeper into the lung tissue by reducing replication. Certainly, if you have asthma, or are obese, is would be wise to take the Tamiflu.
  • Keep your family healthy by preventing exhaustion.

Good Luck Ladies.  This, too, shall pass.


[i] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th1

[ii] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th2

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