- FFF Advocate:
- Amrita Das (mother)
- Place of Residence:
- Canberra, Australia
- Infant, 2017
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Anakin was born 10 weeks premature because his mother had the flu while pregnant.
Flu Illness & Pregnancy
In August 2017, Amrita was a healthy, 32-year-old pregnant woman who was happily awaiting the birth of her second child. She had an 18-month-old daughter at home, who became ill with the flu when Amrita was 23 weeks pregnant. Initially, their pediatrician had thought Amrita’s daughter just had a cold, but she eventually developed a high fever and cough. The illness made its way through their household and Amrita and her husband became ill shortly after their daughter.
Flu & Premature Labor
Days after falling ill, Amrita went into premature labor after her water broke. She was rushed to the local hospital where at first the doctors thought Amrita had a uterine infection, but later tested positive for influenza A. She was hospitalized and placed on strict bed rest for seven weeks as doctors struggled to keep her from delivering prematurely. For these seven weeks, Amrita and her husband struggled to regain their health after falling ill with the flu, while Amrita’s parents cared for their sick daughter at home.
Amrita’s son, Anakin, was born 10 weeks premature (at 30 weeks gestational age). He weighed just 1 kilogram and suffered from fetal growth restriction. Anakin remained in the hospital for three months following his birth. Since being discharged, Anakin has had 5 more hospital admissions and also been diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy. Risk factors for cerebral palsy include premature birth, low birth weight, and viral infections during pregnancy.
Flu Vaccination For Pregnant Moms & Their Families
Prior to 2017, Amrita had no idea just how dangerous the flu could be for pregnant women, young children, and even healthy adults. Although Amrita and her husband had been vaccinated against the flu in 2017, they were told their young daughter did not require a flu vaccine because she was otherwise healthy. Amrita and her family now know that it’s important for everyone, including children and their parents, to get their annual flu vaccine. She hopes her advocacy efforts will prevent other families from having a similar experience.
Anakin now suffers from chronic lung disease and is especially vulnerable to respiratory diseases like the flu. To help protect her son and other children like him, Amrita created an advocacy organization in Australia called Babykins Hope that aims to educate people about the seriousness of flu and the importance of flu prevention. You can visit their Facebook page here.
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