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Nausea, palpitating heart signs of flu in pregnant women


Washington : Nausea in pregnant women tends to fade after the first three months, but if it continues during the second and third trimesters (three months) it can be a sign of flu, says new research.

“People don’t necessarily think of influenza when they include the symptoms of nausea or vomiting, but our study showed that these are common with influenza in pregnancy,” said Vanessa Rogers, who led the study.

Rogers is an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre (UTSMC).

“Both physicians and patients should be aware of these findings so that treatment is not delayed,” she said. “I think our findings should encourage people to be vigilant and to take symptoms seriously.”

Adults with flu tend not to have nausea or vomiting, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. These symptoms are more typical in children.

Researchers studied the cases of pregnant women during the 2003-2004 flu season when the most common strain of influenza caused more severe symptoms than usual.

There also were more cases of flu than expected, because the vaccine given that year didn’t match the strain that was predominant.

During that period, 107 pregnant women were diagnosed with flu at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. Ninety-three percent of the women had cough and 89 percent had fever — common signs of flu, the researchers found.

Eighty-five percent had a “profound” elevated heart rate and 60 percent had nausea and/or vomiting.

Although “morning sickness” and nausea are common during pregnancies, the researchers said that reporting any unusual additional symptom (fever, coughing, elevated heart rate) could help diagnose the disease earlier in these patients.

Nearly two-thirds of pregnant women treated at Parkland were sick enough to require hospitalisation. The most common complication was pneumonia, which occurred in 12 percent of the cases, said an UTSMC release.

These findings appear in the May edition of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.