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Severity of influenza and non-influenza acute respiratory illness among pregnant women, 2010-12

The objective of the study was to identify characteristics of influenza illness contrasted with noninfluenza acute respiratory illness (ARI) in pregnant women. ARI among pregnant women was identified through daily surveillance during 2 influenza seasons (2010-2012). Within 8 days of illness onset, nasopharyngeal swabs were collected, and an interview was conducted for symptoms and other characteristics. A follow-up telephone interview was conducted 1-2 weeks later, and medical records were extracted. Severity of illness was evaluated by self-assessment of 12 illness symptoms, subjective ratings of overall impairment, highest reported temperature, illness duration, and medical utilization. Of 292 pregnant women with ARI, 100 tested positive for influenza viruses. Women with influenza illnesses reported higher symptom severity than those with noninfluenza ARI (median score, 18 vs 16 of 36; P < .05) and were more likely to report severe subjective feverishness (18% vs 5%; P < .001), myalgia (28% vs 14%; P < .005), cough (46% vs 30%; P < .01), and chills (25% vs 13%; P < .01). More influenza illnesses were associated with fever greater than 38.9°C (20% vs 5%; P < .001) and higher subjective impairment (mean score, 5.9 vs 4.8; P < .001). Differences in overall symptom severity, fever, cough, chills, early health care-seeking behavior, and impairment remained significant in multivariate models after adjusting for study site, season, age, vaccination status, and number of days since illness onset. Influenza had a greater negative impact on pregnant women than noninfluenza ARIs, as indicated by symptom severity and greater likelihood of elevated temperature. These results highlight the importance of preventing and treating influenza illnesses in pregnant women.

Authors: Sokolow LZ; Naleway AL; Li DK; Shifflett P; Reynolds S; Henninger ML; Ferber JR; Odouli R; Irving SA; Thompson MG; Pregnancy and Influenza Project Workgroup

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Feb;212(2):202.e1-11. Epub 2014-08-08.

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