Information for pregnant women

Information for pregnant women – recommended behaviour Infection with the influenza virus A/ Hi Ni is transmitted through secretions from the mouth and throat area that reach other people in the form of droplets spread by sneezing and coughing. The virus can also be transmitted by sneezing in the palm of the hand. In otherwise healthy people the virus triggers A general feeling of illness such as aching limbs and fatigue. In pregnant women and the chronically ill the course of the illness is much more severe than for other people. According to the current state of knowledge pregnant women, particularly from the 4th month of pregnancy, have a risk four times as high of becoming ill with an especially severe and possible life threatening course of the disease in comparison with women who are not pregnant. In particular, pneumonia and serious respiratory problems can occur. This risk increases with any pre-existing condition e.g. one or several chronic underlying illnesses such as diabetes and asthma as well as extreme obesity. Infection with the influenza A/HiNi virus can occur during the whole pregnancy. The Robert-Koch-Institut (RKI) sees a heightened risk situation for those affected. Due to the increased risk of infection pregnant women should avoid large gatherings of people. Pregnant women should keep their distance from other people and ensure they carry out good hand hygiene (wash their hands regularly, do not touch other mucus membranes e.g. the mouth; avoid shaking hands). The effects and side effects of the neuraminidase inhibitors oseltamivir (Tamiflu ®) and zanamivir (Relenza ®) used during an infection have not been investigated in pregnant women. Therefore these medicines should only be used with a strict diagnosis taking the benefits and risks of the therapy into consideration. Incidentally, the effectiveness of these medicines depends on taking them in good time. They do not offer safe protection against a severe course of the illness. The first vaccinations against the new influenza virus are likely to be available in October 2009. Taking the WHO recommendations into consideration the vaccination will initially be available to the highest risk groups: these include above all medical personnel and people with existing illnesses as well as pregnant women. Because the side effects in pregnant women have not been investigated a vaccination should only be carried out after a careful consideration of the benefits and risks. In principle, pregnant employees are put at risk by dealing with people who are ill with the new flu (“Swine flu“) of the type A/HiNi. If such an illness becomes known in the direct working environment of a pregnant woman she will be employed for 7 days at a teleworking station. Pregnant students are also at risk when attending lectures and seminars that are attended by people ill with this disease.
Employee pregnancies will, as soon as they are made known to the Personnel Department, be reported to the Occupational Health and Safety Administrative Department, which will then prepare a risk assessment in accordance with the German Maternity Act (MuSchG) and the German Ordinance for the Protection of Mothers in the Workplace. As part of this risk assessment the University, as the employer, will check if there is any employment risk to expectant and nursing mothers in the workplace and will ascertain which measures are necessary. According to the German Maternity Act the employer must take protective measures if pregnant women are exposed to germs in the workplace and are subject to an increased risk of infection. An increased risk to pregnant women is to be expected in areas with intensive contact with the public in particular. This results partly from the close contact with students, partly from the total number of contacts during the working day, which may also be significantly higher than in many other occupations. In individual cases organisational measures to prevent infection can be effective. Pregnant students who are not in employment are not covered by the provisions of the German Maternity Act. It is strongly recommended that they make contact with their general practitioner, gynaecologist or health authority to gain thorough advice. Contact for further information: Ms Weinmann, Occupational Health and Safety Administrative Department, Tel.: 0201/183-4499, Ms Prengel, Personnel & Organisation Development/ Health Management, Tel.: 0203/379-2133,


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