Tamiflu While Pregnant: Safety Profile, Dosage And Side Effects

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If you’re thinking, ‘Can you take Tamiflu while pregnant?’ the answer is yes. Tamiflu in pregnancy may be prescribed as a treatment for the flu. Women go through alterations in their cardiovascular, respiratory, and immune systems during pregnancy. Hence they are more prone to viruses such as the influenza virus, the causative agent of the flu (1).

Although adopting various preventive measures, such as administering vaccines, is considered the first line of defense, medications may be suggested for treatment. Scroll through to know about Tamiflu and its safety for pregnant women, including its side effects and some tips to help you avoid contracting the flu while pregnant.

What Is Tamiflu?

Tamiflu is the brand name for oseltamivir, a drug used for treatment and prophylaxis of flu caused by the influenza virus (2).

It belongs to the class of drugs called neuraminidase inhibitors, which block the enzyme that the virus spreads (3). It is available in two major forms, capsule and liquid (oral suspension).

Can You Take Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) When Pregnant?

The US FDA has approved Tamiflu for the treatment of influenza virus during pregnancy. However, this drug belongs to Pregnancy Category C, which means that there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans (4).

Tamiflu is prescribed if the potential benefits outweigh the risks. Therefore, you should take the drug only if your physician prescribes it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends antiviral treatment to be started within 48 hours of diagnosis for pregnant women during any trimester (1).

What Could Be The Side Effects Of Tamiflu During Pregnancy?

The potential side effects of taking Tamiflu include diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting (5). These symptoms can be bothersome but will subside in a few days. Take medicine after you eat something, as it can upset the digestive system when taken on an empty stomach.

Serious side effects include allergic reactions with the following symptoms:

  • Hives or rash
  • Skin peeling and blisters
  • Itching
  • Difficulty talking
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

If you experience any of these symptoms, let your doctor know about it.

Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is unlikely to cause any adverse pregnancy or fetal outcomes. There is limited research on this aspect (6).

How Much Tamiflu Is Safe To Take During Pregnancy?

The recommended oral dosage is one 75mg capsule two times a day, for five days or as suggested by the doctor for treatment (7). Tamiflu 75mg once a day dose is given for prevention. Your doctor might adjust the dose based on the kidney function.

General Precautions To Follow While Taking Tamiflu

Though it is safe to take the prescribed dosage of Tamiflu, remember the following points to stay safe (8).

  • Tamiflu is not a substitute for flu vaccination.
  • It is not an antibiotic drug and thus cannot be used to treat bacterial infections.
  • It should always be consumed along with food or after food.
  • If you have already received the nasal flu vaccination, you should wait at least two weeks before taking this drug (9).
  • Treating the flu virus at the nascent stages is crucial for high-risk individuals such as pregnant women, and people with underlying health issues (heart diseases, diabetes, and weakened immune systems) (10).
  • You should let your doctor know if you have a history of any disease or illness.

Ways To Prevent A Flu Infection During Pregnancy

The complications of a flu infection during pregnancy can be serious. While antiviral drugs like Tamiflu work as the second line of defense, preventive measures are always the first line of defense.

Here are a few measures recommended by the CDC (11)

  1. Get a flu vaccination to protect both the mother and the baby from the flu (12).
  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  1. Wash your hands often to keep away from germs.
  1. Avoid touching your nose, eyes, or mouth if you feel your hands might be infected.
  1. Always clean and disinfect your surroundings, and boost your immunity by staying active and eating nutritious food.

Tamiflu is a medication usually prescribed for flu caused by the influenza virus. But can you take Tamiflu while pregnant? The answer is yes if prescribed by a healthcare professional. However, before taking this medication, talk to your doctor about the dosage, potential side effects, and precautions. Though your symptoms could resolve after you begin the course of medication, you must not skip or discontinue using it unless your doctor says so. Nevertheless, you may follow preventive measures such as frequent handwashing, maintaining clean surroundings, and getting a flu shot to avoid flu infection during pregnancy.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Recommendations for obstetric health care providers related to use of antiviral medications in the treatment and prevention of influenza; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2. Oseltamivir; MedlinePlus, US National Library of Medicine
3. Luciana L. Borio, Eric Toner, and John Bartlett; Overview of oseltamivir phosphate (Tamiflu®) and key points; Clinicians’ Bio security News; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
4. Treatment of influenza during pregnancy; Information by Drug Class; US Food and Drug Administration
5. Oseltamivir; Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan
6. Vera Ehrenstein, et.al.; Oseltamivir in pregnancy and birth outcomes; NCBI(2018)
7. Pregnancy and the flu; University Of Florida Health
8. Summary of product characteristics; Global Health Press
9. Questions and answers: Antiviral drugs, 2009-2010 flu season; CDC
10. Flu And Pregnant Women; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
11. Healthy habits to help prevent flu; Prevent Flu, CDC
12. Pregnant women & influenza (flu); Who is at a Hight Risk for Flu Complications, CDC
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Dr. Anita Gondy

(MD, FACOG)
Dr. Anita Gondy is an Ob/Gyn at The Ob-Gyn Center in Las Vegas. In practice since 1998, Dr. Gondy began her medical training at Rangaraya Medical College in Kakinada, India and completed studies at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, where she also did an obstetrics and gynecology residency. She is also a Fellow member of The American College... more

shreeja pillai

Shreeja holds a postgraduate degree in Chemistry and diploma in Drug Regulatory Affairs. Before joining MomJunction, she worked as a research analyst with a leading multinational pharmaceutical company. Her interest in the field of medical research has developed her passion for writing research-based articles. As a writer, she aims at providing informative articles on health and pharma, especially related to... more