Mothers against Influenza

Do you ever wonder why your child falls sick so often?

One of the best things that I have done this year, is attend a Mothers Against Influenza Meet in Mumbai. The primary reason for attending such an event was to learn new things on the much dreaded topic Influenza but also to clarify some real myths that go around and not to mention find out that there are numerous other mothers out there who are thinking and feeling the exact same thing that I am.

The doctors who heard us out ever so patiently  – Dr Mukesh Gupta, Gynecologist/ Obstetrecian and Dr. Uday Ananth Pai , Paediatrician – both of whom are based out of Mumbai really put to rest some underlying fears.

Did you know that kids are born with zero immunity?

And that flu can actually spread from a distance of upto 6 feet?

I sure didn’t and these are only some of the reasons why getting your kids vaccinated is so important.

After having my first born, my husband who is an airline pilot returned to his job from his paternity break in a span of two weeks. The very next day after his first flight back at work, he complained of severe body ache, cold and high fever. Ofcourse, me and my son were moved out of his room to avoid the new born from catching anything but that didn’t stop me from catching whatever he had, which later turned out to be Swine Flu.

Yes, can you believe that. Within two weeks of having delivered my son I had contracted Swine Flu from my husband by kissing him on the forehead while exiting the room.

So later on, not only was my husband in quarantine but I was put in quarantine and my new born baby was actually taken away from me for a period of one week. The only difference was that my strain was very mild and my husband’s exceptionally strong and even though I recovered in one weeks time, it took my husband nearly three weeks to bounce back.

Out of everybody on this planet, 4 groups of people are in the highest risk category for contracting any kind of flu –

1. Children – 0 to 6 months of age.

2. Pregnant women

3. Senior citizens

4. People who suffer from low immunity.

Children at birth are born with zero immunity which leads to them being the highest contenders for catching any kinds of flu, hence the reason I was separated from my baby at birth.

Pregnant women have various things working against them as well – Their immunity is low, because of the change in their physical body aspect – their lung capacity is reduced due to change in body size and hormonal changes are occurring in their body at a great speed. They are also at high risk of creating complications during the pregnancy due to flu infections.

As a general rule, Dr Gupta recommended the Samuhik Vaccination for all people including caretakers and family members who will around babies and pregnant women.

Here are some of the Do’s and Don’t’s –

1. If you are ill with Fl- like symptoms (low grade fever, slight cough, runny nose etc) it is advisable to avoid contact with other people to prevent the Flu from spreading further.

2. Take adequate amount of rest with plenty of liquids and nutritious food.

3. Give your body to recover, even if the fever has gone take a day off from school. Work etc to avoid any recurrence.

4. Wash your hands at regular intervals and monitor your illness carefully.

5. Visit your doctor incase of any of the following –

Breathlessness, High fever, Severe cough, chest pains in adults, worsening in underlying chronic conditions, drowsiness in children.

6. Always try and wear a mask or keep your mouth and nose covered with a clean handkerchief.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a yearly vaccination for nearly all people specially the ones that come under the high risk category. For pregnant women it is recommended to get the flu shot before you actually get pregnant to have a safe flu free pregnancy or to take it in the 6th or 7th month of pregnancy to help the antibodies produced at this time to be passed on to the baby in the belly.

Dr Pai made some very valid points at this event – “ Vaccines may take 4 to 6 weeks to develop complete immunity in your body, so you must take it before any epidemic like swine flu breaks out. “-

Also he pointed out “How the parents search for a good school is actually not so good for the child as schools with Air-Conditioners actually create a lack of air circulation and the same stale air is circulated around giving a chance to the flu to spread to even more.

One of the things that left me really impressed was our special guest for the afternoon – Mrs. Genelia Deshmukh. As lovely as she was to meet in person she said one of the most important things that we needed to hear that afternoon, it was something that struck a cord with me –

“A lot of us sometimes feel that we don’t need to get our child vaccinated but the truth is your child is not catching a cold because you didn’t get him vaccinated, your child is not catching a cold because of the 4-5 children who actually did get vaccinated to prevent flu from spreading everywhere.”

I have managed to pick up some really great pointers at this event and cleared up a lot of basic misconceptions I had and we all have as mothers.

Lets all go ahead and become Warriors instead of Worriers.

To get more information from a credible source, check out  http://www.mothersagainstinfluenza.in/ .

Dr. Mukesh Gupta is a Gynecologist/ Obstetrician, practicing in Mumbai. He holds a rich experience of 16 years in his field. Apart from academic excellence (topper in University at the MD Ob/Gyn Examination), he has been awarded the ‘Emerging Star of Medicine’ by Indian Medical Association MWSB in 2011, thus reflecting acknowledgment by his peers and seniors. Besides several other awards and acknowledgments, he has been a faculty at various national and International academic meets in the subject of his expertise. He has pioneered the structured counseling modules for Premarital Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) and Prenatal Workshops for pregnant women. He has been the President of Association Of Fellow Gynaecologists and Office Bearer in Malad Medical Association, Association of Medical Consultants and held responsible positions in several other Medical and Social Organisations. He also mentors students from BITS Pilani, a premier institute with campuses in Pilani, Goa, Hyderabad, who come for summer internship programs (Practice School) under his guidance at LENEST, Malad on subjects related to Healthcare Management.

Dr. UdayAnanthPai – Pediatrician Pediatrician (MD, DCH Distinction ) with 29 years of work experience in strategy and business development, consulting, research and analytics, project management and developing strategies for global pharmaceutical, healthcare and nutrition businesses and products. Have provided decision support to leading global healthcare and pharmaceutical organizations. He currently practices in Mumbai.

“ Disclaimer: I attended a discussion on influenza awareness facilitated by Abbott India Limited. Any opinion expressed in this blog is my personal opinion and not the opinion of Abbott India Limited. Abbott India Limited does not assume any liability for the content of the blog. The blog post is not meant to be a replacement for a doctor consultation, nor is it a medical recommendation or prescription of treatment for babies having Influenza. Any reader of this blog or their family members suffering from Influenza should specifically consult his/her doctor for the same and follow the suggested course of treatment. “

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