According to an Australian study, which focused on the 2009 flu season, catching swine flu is often life-threatening or fatal for pregnant women and their babies.

One in ten women in Australia and New Zealand who required intensive care unit or ICU admission for swine flu later died of the infection. The study also showed that the pandemic A(H1N1) virus claimed the lives of more than one in ten babies of those mums infected.

The study was led by Dr Ian Seppelt from Sydney, which tracked the progress of 209 women of child-bearing age that required treatment in an ICU for swine flu last year.

The results have quantified the additional risk that pregnant women are known to face during the flu outbreak.

It has already been established that pregnant women at a higher risk of developing influenza complications, Dr Seppelt said in a statement on Friday.

During the study window, 7 of the infected mums (11 per cent) and seven of the babies (12 per cent) died from swine flu infection. Dr Seppelt informed that the mortality rate for mums of just over one in ten seems low when compared to all those who needed treatment for respiratory failure in intensive care.

However, when compared to factors that usually lead to death, during pregnancy, it was high.

None of the women in the study had taken the precautions to avoid the infection - by opting not to have a flu vaccine. Dr Seppelt said, It is of great concern that none of the women in the study had been immunized against seasonal flu.

With strong predictions that swine flu will re-surface and amount for up to 75 per cent of flu cases in 2010, we cannot stress enough how important it is for pregnant women to be immunized.

Australians are encouraged to obtain a free swine flu, offered under the federal government program, by seeing their GP.