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Swine flu alert for pregnant women

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Pregnant women and children under five have been identified by the Department of Health as high-risk groups that need to be extra cautious amid the swine flu epidemic.

Ahead of the launch of a new pandemic service, the Government pulled together separate pieces of swine-flu guidance into a single prominent section on the NHS Choices website. Also included in the high-risk category are the over-65s and people with long-term conditions.

According to the NHS, pregnant women’s immune systems are suppressed, which makes them more vulnerable to infections. This has led to advice urging them to avoid unnecessary travel and crowded places.

Recently, a 39-year-old woman died of swine flu shortly after giving birth prematurely in Whipps Cross Hospital.

The death toll in the UK from the disease has risen to 29, and the latest move by the Government is an attempt to calm fears among Britons as the country awaits the arrival of the vaccine.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said pregnant women could take antivirals and be given vaccines.

She added there was ‘no need to panic’ and denied suggestions that couples were being advised to delay conception amid the outbreak.

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