Monday, 3 August 2009

Conflicting Advice - Swine Flu

Pregnancy should be a wonderful time in a woman’s life, as she looks forward to a positive birth experience and the excitement of impending motherhood. For many, these emotions are mixed with a sense of fear about the unknown, how will she cope with labour and birth, and how will she cope with a small baby? Even for the low percentage of those with a high risk pregnancy, good ante natal care and monitoring should get them through it unscathed with a healthy baby at the end of their pregnancy, so it is a little unhelpful and frightening that added to these natural worries we are bombarded on a daily basis about the impending flu epidemic, and the conflicting advice given. For example women are told to stay away from crowded areas, avoid public transport and stay at home- how does that work then when they are expected to visit their ante natal clinic, usually in their Dr’s surgery, an area no doubt bombarded on a daily basis with the virus?

Then, when they go into labour the advice is MAYBE to have a homebirth thus cutting the risk of infection or passing it on to other new mothers, OR to have a hospital birth because there won’t be enough midwives (as they will be sick too), and so the few that are left will be expected to care for more women in labour than usual. You can’t have it both ways, but department of health guidelines are written in order to cover all possibilities, they don’t want to be accused of not doing the right thing.

The thing is that none of us know how this will pan out, and maybe the DOH should be honest and declare it. So far the death rate of healthy individuals has been mercifully low – on the NHS choices site on the 27th July the statement read : There were an estimated 100,000 new cases of swine flu in the UK in the week ending July 19. Total deaths stand at 31.

I suspect that the infection rates are much higher than this with many people not visiting their Drs and self treating at home. Statistically the predictions are that as many as a third of the population will get the H1N1 virus over the coming months with a predicted death rate in the region of 0.1 to 0.35%. Sir Liam Donaldson the Chief Medical Officer, announced last week that the death rate could be as high as 65,000 or as low as 3,100, the truth is they don’t know and won’t know until it has run its course, in a normal year there will be as many as 6000 deaths from seasonal flu, so maybe we should calm down . Putting another perspective on this crisis is this: In the UK in 2006 ‘Cancer accounted for 29 per cent of all deaths in males and 25 per cent in females’. That’s 242,200 men and women in one year of mainly preventable deaths, and yet I don’t see the politicians, the newspapers or other media wringing their hands over that statistic.

Having said all that, it’s a known fact that pregnant women are more susceptible to infections with a lowered immune system, and so they can try to protect themselves by careful hand washing and so on, but in the crowded cities and towns that we live in I think the chances of not coming into contact with the virus must be pretty slim. Eating a well balanced diet, drinking plenty of fluids and getting enough rest is probably as good a protection as anything else, and for the time being keep to your plans of a home or hospital birth, whichever you prefer.

NCT Swine Flu Information

NHS Swine Flue Information

Swine Flu Symptom Checker swine flu symptom checker

Flu statistics on BBC site


Swine Flu Britain said...

Experts warn against giving anti-viral drugs to pregnant women & children suffering from swine flu

Swine Flu

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