While folks often try and make it seem like measles is a common childhood illness, we know that it can be dangerous.
“One of the patients was a 20-year-old pregnant woman who had rash onset on January 5 following exposure to her 12-year-old brother. After delivering a healthy baby on January 6, the mother developed severe pneumonia that was followed by respiratory arrest. She was resuscitated and transferred to an intensive care unit in a larger hospital nearby in Tennessee.”Epidemiologic Notes and Reports Transmission of Measles Across State Lines — Kentucky, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Virginia
Rarely do people who have really had measles describe it as just a fever and a rash. They remember that it was called a harmless killer for a reason.
Is Measles Dangerous If You Are Pregnant?
And there are some situations in which measles can be especially dangerous, including if you get sick when you are very young, very old, or have immune system problems.
And what if you are pregnant when you get measles?
“The Health Department announced today that the number of measles cases has grown to 390, including two pregnant women diagnosed with the infection, one diagnosed in mid-April.”The Number of Measles Cases Grows to 390
If you are pregnant and you are exposed to someone with measles, you can get IVIG post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent you from actually getting measles, but this typically only works if given within six days of the exposure.
“To date, studies have not identified an increased risk for birth defects when pregnant women get the measles during pregnancy. However, studies suggest that measles infection is associated with an increased risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity and the baby being born with a measles infection.”When Measles Strike, It’s Not The Happiest Place On Earth For Pregnant Women
Unlike a rubella infection during pregnancy, a measles infection is not thought to cause birth defects. Tragically, it can, like rubella, lead to an increased risk for having a miscarriage.
“Infants who develop congenital measles are at increased risk for mortality and for subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, which is more common when measles is diagnosed in infancy. In addition, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis in newborns infected with measles either congenitally or shortly after birth appears to be more severe, with a shorter latency and rapidly progressive course.”What Obstetric Health Care Providers Need to Know About Measles and Pregnancy
And if the mother gets measles very late in her pregnancy, it can also lead to a case of congenital measles, or a baby being born with an active measles infection.
“In 52% of cases, measles was likely acquired from a relative. Complications included pneumonia in one child; two pregnant women required hospitalization, including one who miscarried.”Notes from the Field: Measles Outbreak Among Members of a Religious Community — Brooklyn, New York, March–June 2013
Don’t take the risk that you might get measles while you are pregnant.
Make sure you are vaccinated and protected before you ever start thinking about getting pregnant, as pregnancy is a contraindication to getting the MMR vaccine. And you should wait at least 4 weeks after getting vaccinated before getting pregnant.
More on Measles in Pregnancy
- VAXOPEDIA – The Myth That Measles Isn’t Deadly
- VAXOPEDIA – Did Your Rubella Titer Come Back Negative?
- VAXOPEDIA – How Does a Mother’s Flu Shot Protect a Newborn Baby?
- VAXOPEDIA – Did the FDA Admit That the Government Is Recommending Untested, Unlicensed Vaccines for Pregnant Women?
- When Measles Strike, It’s Not The Happiest Place On Earth For Pregnant Women
- Measles & the MMR Vaccine: Recommendations Around Pregnancy, Including the Periconception and Postpartum Periods
- Study – What Obstetric Health Care Providers Need to Know About Measles and Pregnancy
- Study – Review of the effect of measles vaccination on the epidemiology of SSPE.
- NHS – Measles Complications
- Measles exposure during pregnancy–guidance document
- Study – Measles infection in pregnancy.
- Study – Complications of measles during pregnancy.
- Study – Measles encephalitis in early pregnancy and after delivery.
- Measles, Mumps, and Rubella in Pregnant Women
- Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Overview
- Editorial commentary: Measles in pregnancy is not child’s play.
- Study – Measles in pregnancy in Lyon France, 2011.
- MMWR – Prevention of Measles, Rubella, Congenital Rubella Syndrome, and Mumps, 2013: Summary Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)
- MMWR – Notes from the Field: Measles Outbreak Among Members of a Religious Community — Brooklyn, New York, March–June 2013
- MMWR – Epidemiologic Notes and Reports Transmission of Measles Across State Lines — Kentucky, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Virginia
- MMWR – Measles — Arizona