Scary! Pregnant Woman with Flu Miscarries, Ends Up in ICU

Mama-to-be Leslie Creekmore’s doctor advised against getting the flu shot during her first trimester of pregnancy, so she didn’t get one then. Instead, she planned to get the vaccine at her 20-week checkup reports CNN. Weeks later, when she and her husband came down with the flu, neither of them could have imagined that she would end up in the hospital. But as his symptoms cleared up, hers got worse.

On January 11, days before her 20-week appointment, Leslie, 29, was admitted to a hospital in Fort Smith, Arkansas, due to shortness of breath. Over night, things escalated and she was taken to the intensive care unit. Two days later, she was placed on a ventilator. On January 16, she abruptly miscarried while unconscious and soon after her right lung collapsed. She’s now fighting for her life.

How could something as common as the flu cause all of this? According to the CDC, pregnancy puts extra stress on the heart and lungs, and can affect your immune system, increasing the risk of severe illness, miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight. Dr. Rosanna Gray-Swain, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis—where Leslie was transferred to—says, “Pregnant women are five times more likely to end up in the ICU or have severe complications related to the flu than non-pregnant women who get infected with the flu.”

The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services advises that all pregnant women should get flu shots (injectable forms are fine for pregnant women, while nasal spray versions are not), and the CDC agrees—citing there have been no evidence of pregnant women or their babies being harmed by the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine protects against many strains during the season from October to March. Pregnant women who receive the vaccine may still get the flu, but it would likely be a milder illness than otherwise, and severe consequences would be improbable, Gray-Swain said.

Chris’s friend set up a GoFundMe page to help the family raise money to support Leslie’s care. If there is money left over after he pays his wife’s medical bills, Chris hopes to use part of the money to help support free flu vaccination clinics and to get the word out about how important flu vaccines are for pregnant women. So if you haven’t yet, I hope Leslie’s story inspires you to get your flu shot—stat!

TELL US: Have you gotten your flu shot yet? Has a doctor ever advised you to not get the flu shot while pregnant?

Image of calendar courtesy of Shutterstock.

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