When you are pregnant and you are cold or flu-prone, you tend to feel worse than before pregnancy: no symptoms bypass you and it is more severe. Although you might think that these severe manifestations occur against the background of a weakened immune system due to pregnancy, surprising (and strange) is that the severe symptoms are caused precisely by the strong immunity you have during this period.
Strong immune system, guilty for the aggressive symptoms of the flu
It appears that pregnant women have one of the strongest immune responses to the attack of influenza viruses in the body, according to a study recently conducted at Stanford University School of Medicine, California, USA. But it is precisely this resistance that immunity raises against the attack of influenza viruses that gives rise to the most aggressive symptoms of the infection, making you vulnerable to complications.
To arrive at this discovery, scientists conducted an experiment to test immune cell reactions to various influenza viruses. The researchers examined cells taken from 21 pregnant women and 29 healthy women who were not pregnant. The cells were extracted from blood samples collected before and after 7 days from the administration of the flu vaccine. For the accuracy of the findings, the specialists also tested cells harvested from pregnant women, six days after they were born.
All types of harvested cells were exposed to two types of influenza viruses under laboratory conditions: H1N1 (responsible for the 2009 pandemic) and a seasonal H3N2 influenza virus strain.
The results of the microscopic analysis showed that pregnancy increased the body's immune response to both viral strains and increased the level of two types of white blood cells. These are cells that contribute to increased production of cytokines and chemokines, molecules that have the role of attracting more immune cells together to fight infection.
Dangers of influenza on pregnancy and pregnancy
Although the immune response has the role of protecting the health and helping the body to cope with the action of influenza viruses, the severe reactions you can experience when you are pregnant can endanger your health and even life, not just pregnancy.
According to the researchers, if chemokine levels are too high during pregnancy, it means that immune cells multiply. It is not a beneficial reaction for the lungs, says American study coordinator Catherine Blish. Pregnant people who become flu-like in pregnancy have a high risk of getting pneumonia and even dying, Blish warns.
Viral pneumonia is a condition that attacks not only the health of the pregnant woman but also pregnancy, increasing the risk of miscarriage, intrauterine fetal death, premature birth or premature neonatal death.
Respiratory failure is an increased risk for pneumonia or severe viral infections. Difficulty breathing can deprive the fetus of oxygen and lead to fetal hypoxia in pregnancy.
The scientists who undertook the study, however, are confident that their findings will lead to the development of an immunomodulatory treatment that will improve the symptoms and reduce the risk of respiratory infections in pregnancy.
Influenza vaccine, life saver for pregnancy and pregnancy
As respiratory viruses tend to be more severe in pregnancy and raise the risk of many complications, experts argue that pregnant women should embrace the "better prevent, than treat" philosophy when it comes to flu and colds.
Researchers at Stanford University point out that the annual flu vaccine is most important for preventing the inflammatory response that occurs in the body of pregnant women and, in severe cases, can have lethal reactions. Unfortunately, very few pregnant women trust and get their vaccine in pregnancy, although it is considered safe and without any side effects.
Have you been cold or flu-affected? Did you experience any more severe symptoms or did you find any difference? How did you treat yourself? Tell us your tips and suggestions in the comments section below!
Tags Influenza pregnancy