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Viral respiratory disease in pregnancy

Longman, Ryan E; Johnson, Timothy RB

Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology: April 2007 - Volume 19 - Issue 2 - p 120–125
doi: 10.1097/GCO.0b013e328028fdc7
Maternal-fetal medicine

Purpose of review Recently there has been an increased concern over viral respiratory infections and their potential for a pandemic. This concern makes it important to review the most current guidelines for the management of viral respiratory diseases in pregnancy.

Recent findings The topics covered are influenza, avian influenza, and severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Summary Pregnant women have an increased susceptibility to viral respiratory diseases. The most common respiratory virus to infect pregnant women is influenza. All women who intend to become pregnant or are pregnant should receive the influenza vaccine. If a pregnant woman develops influenza she should be treated with supportive care. Antiviral medications should be reserved for cases where the benefits outweigh the risks. Avian influenza (H5N1) is a new emerging virus usually contracted from direct contact with diseased birds. There is no commercially available vaccine at this time to prevent infection. Pregnant women should be treated aggressively with supportive care and antiviral medications, as the significant risk of maternal mortality outweighs the potential fetal risks. Pregnant women diagnosed clinically with severe acute respiratory syndrome should be treated empirically, as a serologic diagnosis can take weeks to confirm. The treatment of pregnant women with severe acute respiratory syndrome should be without ribavirin.

Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan, Women's Hospital, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Correspondence to Dr Timothy R.B. Johnson, MD, Bates Professor and Chair, Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan, Women's Hospital, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, Room L4000, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0276, USA Tel: +1 734 763 0983; fax: +1 734 763 5992; e-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.