SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2016

Obese people and new moms risk flu complications

A study sponsored by the World Health Organization recently found that new mothers and obese people have a higher risk of death and other severe outcomes from influenza.

The report, which was conducted by McMaster University and published online in the journal of the British Medical Association, also found that ethnic minorities and pregnant women did not have more complicated influenza and would not require priority vaccination. The findings are important to determine which groups should be first in line for vaccination during a flu vaccine shortage.

"Policy makers and public health organizations need to recognize the poor quality of evidence that has previously supported decisions on who receives vaccines during an epidemic," Dominik Mertz, the lead author of the study, said. "If we can define the risk groups we can optimally allocating vaccines, and that is particularly important when and if there is vaccine shortage, say during a new pandemic."

The researchers reviewed 239 observational studies between 1918 and 2011 and looked at risk factors for complications. Risk factors included the need for ventilator support, the development of pneumonia, admission to a hospital or its intensive care unit and dying.

"These data reinforce the need to carefully define those conditions that lead to complications following infection with influenza," Mark Loeb, the senior author on the paper, said.

Up to 500,000 people die throughout the world of severe influenza each year.