If I am exposed to measles during pregnancy, what should l do?
Don't panic. That is the first thing. Most adults of childbearing age will either have been vaccinated sometime in their childhood or would have had the infection. The immunity acquired from either is life-long and 95 per cent of all those who are vaccinated acquire this immunity.
This leaves only a small minority who may be susceptible during pregnancy. If you are unsure whether you have had the infection or been immunized, then you should contact your doctor promptly after exposure to have your status checked. If no records are available, then a simple blood test may establish whether you are immune or not.
If you are susceptible, an injection of a protective protein (immunoglobulin) may be administered to give you passive immunity. The protection from this is not total, but even if you go on to get the infection, it will be attenuated and therefore mild.
Again, this is a rare occurrence, for the reasons explained above. However, when this happens, the infection can be serious, needing hospital admission and isolated nursing. Measles pneumonia, which may be complicated by secondary bacterial pneumonia, is the most likely problem.
The potential complication of measles infection in pregnancy is that it could provoke labour and lead to premature delivery. If this happens, attempts may be made to suppress the contractions, provided the mother is not too ill and there are no features of fetal distress. These efforts are not always successful.
No. Vaccination for measles employs a live (weakened) virus and no such vaccination can be given during pregnancy.