Second mother in swine flu stillbirth tragedy


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A second pregnant woman vaccinated against the A (H1N1) vaccine has lost her baby.

The woman, who was 34 weeks pregnant, was admitted to the Lisbon private hospital CUF Descobertas on Monday evening when the foetus was removed stillborn.

The hospital has issued a statement that the “foetus registered no vital signs at 7pm” and declined to issue further information.

It is the second stillbirth case within a week.  On Sunday, a woman in Portalegre lost her eight-month-old foetus after being vaccinated with Pandemrix against the A (H1N1) virus.

The 31-year-old woman, who was vaccinated at Portalegre Health Centre, had been pregnant with a baby girl for 34 weeks.

Portalegre Hospital has issued assurances that there was “no proven correlation between the vaccination and the death of the foetus”.

But the woman’s husband said that up until taking the vaccine, his wife had enjoyed a problem-free pregnancy and had only began showing problems immediately after being vaccinated.

The foetus’ death was confirmed after various exams were carried out and the hospital has stated that it is “not possible to establish a causal relation between the vaccination of the pregnant woman and the foetus’ death.”

An autopsy has been carried out on the foetus at Lisbon’s Egas Moniz Hospital and the full results were expected to be released after the Algarve Resident went to press this week.

At the time of going to press, the Directorate-General of Health had not issued a statement on the latest case.

The Ministry of Health, however, which is investigating the stillbirths, has stated in a communiqué that stillbirths occur in Portugal at a rate of one a day.

In Portugal, 263 stillborn foetus deaths from 28 weeks onwards were registered last year.

“There is almost a case every day and it is extremely unlikely that this death bore any relation with the vaccine,” said Francisco George, the Director-General of Health, on the Portalegre stillbirth case.   

Phase B of a nationwide vaccination programme, which includes children between six months and two years and chronically ill patients, was started on Monday.

The phase against A (H1N1) has got underway sooner than expected after the World Health Organisation had issued an alert at an increase in cases among the young.

So far six people have died as a result of swine flu in Portugal, with the disease killing two people in the past week.

According to the latest national figures from the Department of Health for the week November 2 to 8, 14,111 new cases of flu-like illnesses, independent of strain, were registered nationwide.