Pregnant women died at much greater rates during previous pandemics than other people. The 2009 pandemic is no exception.
Eight patients in this series died…None of the eight received antiviral agents within 48 hours after symptom onset…
Over the 4-month study period, the cause-specific maternal mortality ratio for 2009 H1N1 influenza was estimated at 4.3 in California. The maternal mortality ratio for death from any cause was 19.3 in California in 2005 and 13.3 in the United States in 2006. More than two thirds of maternal deaths in the United States each year are directly related to obstetrical factors, and maternal deaths due to influenza have been rare. The high 2009 H1N1 influenza–specific maternal mortality suggests that this pandemic has the potential to notably increase overall maternal mortality in the United States in 2009.
It is worth noting that none of the 8 patients who died with confirmed H1N1 had been treated with Tamiflu within the recommended 48 hours of symptoms. Given that approximately 50% of the pregnant women had received Tamiflu within 48 hours of symptoms, it is highly likely that Tamiflu greatly reduced the death rate among pregnant women.
Again, the stories suggesting pandemic H1N1 are no worse than seasonal flu are at variance with the truth. 2009 will likely go down in American history as one of the years with the highest recorded number of deaths among pregnant women, despite the advanced medical care most women received. In countries where Tamiflu and advanced medical care is not readily available, very large numbers of deaths among pregnant women is likely.
Louie et al. (2009) Severe 2009 H1N1 Influenza in Pregnant and Postpartum Women in California. New England Journal of Medicine. December 23.