The World Health Organisation is recommending that pregnant women should have immediate access to antiviral drugs to treat swine flu because they appear to be more vulnerable, a spokeswoman said Friday.
"WHO is recommending that in the countries where there is a wide spread of A(H1N1) pandemic flu that pregnant women ... should be provided with adequate care and treatment immediately," said| WHO spokeswoman Aphaluck Bhatiasevi.
"Antiviral drug is recommended for treatment of pregnant women," she told journalists.
Bhatiasevi said the advice was based on studies among pregnant women in the United States and reports from several countries indicating that pregnant women were "more at risk of A(H1N1) infection."
Experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found in a study published on Wednesday that pregnant women could be at increased risk from swine flu compared with the general public.
They said that pregant women should be given priority for the future vaccine against swine flu and, if infected, be given antiviral drugs.
The two antiviral drugs used against swine flu are Relenza or Tamiflu.
Attitudes towards treatment and prevention of pregnant women, even for seasonal influenza, often differ between countries.
Switzerland's regulatory agency for medicines, Swissmedic, this week recommended that doctors must evaluate antiviral treatment for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding on a case-by-case basis, since the symptoms of swine flu were "relatively benign" so far.
Based on tests with animals and "limited experience available so far with pregant women," Swissmedic said "in some cases the interest of using Relenza and Tamiflu with pregnant or lactating women may outweigh the risks linked to this treatment."