From Our 2010 Archives

Taking Flu Drugs While Pregnant Appears to Be Safe: Study

FRIDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- The influenza drugs Tamiflu, Relenza and Flumadine appear to be safe for pregnant women and their babies, U.S. researchers say.

The investigators analyzed the medical records of 239 pregnant women who had been diagnosed with the flu and were treated with one of the three drugs. Among these patients, rates of preterm birth, gestational diabetes, premature membrane rupture, fever during labor or prolonged hospital stay were no different than those of pregnant women without the flu.

There was also no difference between the two groups for rates of preeclampsia, a serious pregnancy-related condition marked by the sudden onset of high blood pressure, leakage of the protein albumin into the urine, and swelling of the hands, feet and face.

In addition, the women's babies had no significant differences in birth weight, need for intensive care, seizures, jaundice, stillbirths or major or minor malformations.

The study, published in the April issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, offers reassuring findings, according to the researchers.

"This is the first large study that systematically looked at the safety of all these drugs in pregnancy," senior author Dr. George Wendel, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, said in a university news release.

"A woman has to balance the benefits and potential risks of any medication taken during pregnancy. But with influenza, the added risks of complications from the disease in pregnancy need to be considered," he noted.

One limitation of the study that the authors pointed out was that only 13% of the women with the flu took a flu drug in the first trimester, a time crucial to fetal development.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, news release, April 27, 2010