Jun 19, 2019 | Updated: 09:31 AM EDT

Here’s What Could Happen If You Get Measles While Pregnant

May 20, 2019 10:22 AM EDT

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Pregnant woman holding bump
(Photo : Leah Kelley)

Due to the ongoing debate about vaccination, a lot of expecting mothers have not been vaccinated. Health workers are worried about the consequences of a pregnant woman with measles, especially once they hit their third trimester which is the most sensitive cycle.

A case was recorded in England on May 9, when a 27-year-old woman who had not been vaccinated, got measles and was rushed to the hospital. When she arrived, it wasn't clear that she had measles, according to the journal BMJ Case Reports. In fact, it took the doctors around 2 weeks to make the proper diagnosis.

Within a day of being hospitalized, the patient began having severe breathing problems. This aroused from a respiratory infection that becomes severe in pregnant women because their immune system is in a naturally suppressed state, said lead case report author Dr. Jassimran Bansal, an obstetrics and gynecology resident at King's College Hospital in London.

Even after all the medication, her breathing problems did not improve. Five days later, her condition worsened and her lungs showed signs of severe respiratory failure.

The doctors recommended that she have an emergency C-section because her health and the baby's health were at risk. She then delivered a healthy, but a premature baby.

Measles is difficult to diagnose during pregnancy because the rash (one of the symptoms of measles) is often absent. It is not clear why though, but it is likely due to the changes in the immune system that occur during pregnancy.

There's another case where a woman who did have a mild rash when she went to the hospital during her 32nd week of pregnancy. She told doctors that she also had a fever and sore throat. The rash first appeared on the palms of her hands and then spread to her face, to her back, chest, and stomach, and this pattern is typical of measles.

After numerous tests, she was diagnosed with measles. After she gave birth, the doctors checked her baby and luckily her baby is safe. She spent three weeks at the hospital before she was sent home. Both the mother and baby are doing fine, and the mother had her other two children receive the MMR vaccine for protection.

Pregnant women who have not received the MMR vaccine are at increased risk of severe illness and complications of measles according to ACOG or the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The group also noted that getting the measles during pregnancy is linked with an increased risk of pneumonia and hospitalization, as well as an increased risk of miscarriage, giving birth prematurely or having a low-birth-weight baby.

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