If You Get The Flu During Pregnancy
Researchers have found it tricky to study infection in pregnant woman. First of all, it's not easy to find pregnant women with confirmed diagnoses of a specific infection at any point in time. It does no good for a researcher to question pregnant women about their health histories in regard to having had the flu, a cold, or even the measles. The diagnosis has to be proven in order for the effects of the infection to be given a proper analysis.
Once a group of pregnant women with specific confirmed ailments has been identified, researchers have to come up with a second group of pregnant women who are in all ways similar to the first group, minus the infection. To put this in simple terms, there has to be a control group of pregnant women without the flu for scientists to get a true understanding of the effects of influenza on pregnant women.
Within the control group, scientists will be bound to find that some women will succumb to miscarriages and that some of the children will be born with defects. This helps us understand that not all the problems found in the pregnant women with flu are due to infection. The control group provides us with the parameters for excluding a certain number of poor outcomes that happen with or without the flu.
By now, researchers have proven that certain infections pose a greater risk for birth defects. Some of these diseases that pose such risks are listeriosis, parvovirus, syphilis, herpes, cytomegalovirus, rubella, and toxoplasmosis. Certain other infectious diseases may result in miscarriage or cause defects but the risk is only a bit higher than for those in any given control group. These illnesses include measles, mumps, and varicella (chicken pox). There are many other illnesses that can cause birth defects and miscarriages—too many to list here—while the effects of other infectious agents have yet to undergo a thorough study.
No Exception: Anyone Can Get The Flu
Pregnant women tend to be susceptible to upper respiratory viruses including influenza and rhinovirus. If you consider that most people come down with at least one or two colds in the course of a year, it's easy to see why pregnant women are no exception. Most of the time, these infections don't produce any dire effects on mother or unborn child. Because of this fact, there are no specific recommendations in place for medical intervention for typical upper respiratory infections occurring in pregnant women.
Regarding influenza, a few studies have found a correlation between an unborn child's exposure to flu while in utero and contracting mental illness as a mature adult. While the risk is not very high, it is higher than for those who were not exposed to the flu before birth. A similar link has been shown in some small studies linking fetal influenza exposure to a risk for developing brain tumors in adulthood. The risk is quite low and is not considered to be significant.