Pregnant measles, what to do?

A supposedly infantile and benign disease, measles is a viral infection that can affect any individual at any age. It is not without consequences when it occurs during pregnancy.

Measles, what is it?

  • A highly contagious infectious disease caused by a respiratory virus, measles is transmitted by salivary or respiratory droplets. It is extremely contagious, 5 days before and after the onset of typical symptoms like the eruption of red patches, whatever the hygiene measures put in place. It is enough for an infected person to cough or sneeze to contaminate those around him.
  • This viral infection is characterized by high fever, severe cough, rhinitis and conjunctivitis, followed by rash. It is not a benign disease because it can cause at any age more or less severe complications: acute otitis and conjunctivitis bronchitis, pneumonia, encephalitis.
  • In recent years, there has been a resurgence of measles, prompting health authorities to step up vaccination campaigns.

Measles and pregnancy, what are the risks?

  • Because the body is more fragile during pregnancy, a pregnant woman who has never had measles and is not vaccinated increases her risk of getting measles. Therefore, it is recommended to get vaccinated before starting a pregnancy.
  • Measles does not cause malformations in the fetus, unlike other diseases such as rubella, chickenpox, or toxoplasmosis. On the other hand, it can have direct consequences on the pregnant woman, such as pulmonary complications, and can also cause miscarriage or premature delivery.
  • Special case: contagion at the end of pregnancy. When a mother has measles or just comes out of measles at the time of birth, there is a risk of congenital measles. The latter can cause serious neurological complications in the infant.

How to treat?

  • Vaccination against measles during pregnancy is not possible. We must be vigilant and avoid contact with potentially infectious people. If a pregnant woman comes into contact with a person who is contaminated with measles, she will usually be given intravenous immunoglobulin (IG). If despite everything, she develops the measles, a medical care will be necessary.

Frédérique Odasso