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Name of Media:

Pregnancy as a risk factor for severe outcomes from influenza virus infection: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies


Dominik Mertz , Johanna Geraci , Judi Winkup , Bradford D Gessner , Justin R Ortiz , Mark Loeb

Publisher or Source:


Type of Media:

Medical Journal

Media Originally for:

Critical Care Physicians

Country of Origin:


Primary Focus of Media:

Pre-Use of PICS Designation

COVID-19 Related:



Background: Pregnancy is considered to be an important risk factor for severe complications following influenza virus infection. As a consequence, WHO recommendations prioritize pregnant women over other risk groups for influenza vaccination. However, the risk associated with pregnancy has not been systematically quantified.

Purpose: Systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies that reported on pregnancy as a risk factor for severe outcomes from influenza virus infection.

Data source: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and CENTRAL up to April 2014.

Data selection: Studies reporting on outcomes in pregnant women with influenza in comparison to non-pregnant patients with influenza. Outcomes included community-acquired pneumonia, hospitalization, admission to intensive care units (ICU), ventilatory support, and death.

Data extraction: Two reviewers conducted independent screening and data extraction. A random effects model was used to obtain risk estimates. Ecological studies were summarized descriptively.

Data synthesis: A total of 142 non-ecological and 10 ecological studies were included. The majority of studies (n=136, 95.8%) were conducted during the 2009 influenza A (pH1N1) pandemic. There was a higher risk for hospitalization in pregnant versus non-pregnant patients infected with influenza (odds ratio [OR] 2.44, 95% CI 1.22-4.87), but no significant difference in mortality (OR 1.04, 95% CI 0.81-1.33) or other outcomes. Ecologic studies confirmed the association between hospitalization risk and pregnancy and 4 of 7 studies reported higher mortality rates in pregnant women.

Limitations: No studies were identified in which follow-up began prior to contact with the healthcare system and lack of adjustment for confounding factors.

Conclusions: We found that influenza during pregnancy resulted in a higher risk of hospital admission than influenza infection in non-pregnant individuals, but that the risk of mortality following influenza was similar in both pregnant and non-pregnant individuals.

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