Most of us are aware of what measles is – a very contagious viral infection presented with symptoms like fever, red eyes, cough/colds, white spots in the mouth, and small red spots on the skin. Measles is vaccine-preventable. However, there have been major measles outbreaks across the country during the early months of 2019.
Between January to May 2019, the Department of Health (DOH) has recorded a total of 34,950 measles cases and 477 deaths across the country. The recent epidemics reminded us of the importance of vaccines. Anyone who is not vaccinated against measles is at risk of contracting the infection and will then continue the transmission of the infection to other people.
Measles during pregnancy
Measles or Rubella is very dangerous for pregnant women and their developing babies. The infection can cause severe damage when the mother gets the infection during the early months of pregnancy, especially during the first trimester.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant women who get infected with measles are at risk for stillbirth or miscarriage. Babies inside their wombs are also at risk of developing of Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS), in which babies suffer from severe birth defects with devastating and lifelong consequences.
Here are some of the most common birth defects due to CRS:
- Skin rash at birth
- Low birth weight
- Heart defects
- Intellectual disabilities
- Liver and spleen damage
Some of the less common complications of CRS include glaucoma, inflammation of the lungs, thyroid and other hormone problems, and brain damage.
While pregnant women can no longer get the MMR vaccine, women who are trying to conceive are encouraged to get vaccinated, since there is no cure for CRS. Specific symptoms can be managed but there is no cure for the possible defects. So it’s best to discuss and work with your doctor if ever you do contract measles while you’re pregnant or if you’re planning to get pregnant.