Early treatment with oseltamivir may reduce length of hospital stay for pregnant women with the flu, especially for severe cases, a new study. Findings from the study are published in The Journal of infectious Diseases

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends treatment of suspected flu among pregnant women with antivirals as soon as possible before waiting for test results to confirm it. “The earlier you treat, the better chances you have to modify the course of the illness,” stated Sandra S. Chaves, MD, MSc, of the CDC and the study’s senior author.

Earlier data has shown antiviral therapy for the flu is safe and beneficial for expectant mothers. For this study, researchers evaluated pregnant women hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed flu over 4 flu seasons 2010–2014 across 14 states. During the study duration, 865 were hospitalized with the flu, of which 7% (n=63) had severe illness.

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Study authors found that early therapy with oseltamivir, an antiviral, was associated with a shorter hospital stay. Pregnant women with severe flu who received early treatment within 2 days of symptom onset experienced a median length of stay 2.2 days vs. 7.8 days for those who were treated later. In addition, expectant mothers who were hospitalized with less severe flu that received early treatment also had a shorter hospital stay than those treated later, though the difference was not as significant. 

Pregnant women hospitalized with severe flu were half as likely to have been vaccinated compared to the women hospitalized with milder illness (14% vs. 26%). The study authors concluded that all pregnant women should be vaccinated to prevent influenza and related complications for themselves and their infants. 

For more information visit idsociety.org.