Any form of ailment during pregnancy can be worrisome. So if you get dengue during pregnancy, it can be a matter of concern. Due to their weakened immunity, pregnant women are more suscceptible to dengue virus. Continue reading to understand more about this disease and its effects on pregnancy and what the treatment and prevention options are.
Causes Of Dengue Fever During Pregnancy
Dengue is a viral disease transmitted to people by certain species of mosquito called Aedes aegypti. Dengue thrives in tropical regions where the climate is warm and humid. There are four types of the dengue virus. Therefore, if you get infected with one type of virus at any time, it gives lifelong immunity to that type but there is still a possibility that you can get infected by the other three types later. Since dengue is a mosquito-borne illness, the number of the dengue cases shoot up during the monsoon season, the period in which the mosquitoes thrive due to stagnant water. Aedes mosquitoes are more active during the day especially early morning and late afternoon.
What Are The Symptoms Of Dengue Fever During Pregnancy?
The symptoms of the dengue fever appear 72 hours after the virus strays into the body after a mosquito bite. Most of the signs of dengue fever are quite similar to that of flu. Initial signs include:
- High fever
- Rashes on upper body
- Severe headache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Signs of dehydration
- Bleeding from the gums
- Pain behind the eyes which increases with eye movements
- Loss of appetite
- Severe body pain and joint pain
- Low platelet count
Severe drop in the platelet count can result in low blood pressure and may lead to bleeding. This life threating condition is known as dengue hemorrhagic fever
Risks From Dengue Fever During Pregnancy
Dengue fever in pregnancy can generate a lot of health complications for both the mother and the unborn baby. This is because as the immune system is suppressed during pregnancy, the chances are that pregnant women can have a severe form of dengue. Also, the virus can be transmitted to the unborn baby during pregnancy or birth. There may be a need for a caesarean section if you have dengue at any time during pregnancy. Some of the complications that can emerge during pregnancy due dengue fever are:
- Thrombocytopenia: The drop in the platelet level is one of the significant signs of dengue. Low platelet count during pregnancy can be life-threatening for both the mother and the baby. Severe thrombocytopenia can develop complications with the use of epidural or general anesthesia in the course of delivery
- Preterm labor and low birth weight: Dengue during pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimester increases the chances of preterm labor and a low weight newborn or even stillbirth in severe cases
- Miscarriage: Dengue during the first trimester increases the chances of miscarriage
- Risk of hemorrhage: If the mother is infected with dengue virus during delivery, the risk of hemorrhage is very high
- Preeclampsia: The chances of developing preeclampsia increases if the pregnant woman catches dengue fever during pregnancy
- Dengue hemorrhagic fever: The severe form of dengue, dengue haemorrhagic fever, can be fatal for the baby
The risk of passing dengue fever to your baby will happen only if you have this illness towards the end of your pregnancy, otherwise, the chances of passing the virus to the fetus are very low. Generally, dengue is not known to cause any physical deformity in kids but you have to, however, be careful to prevent infection from spreading to your newborn baby. Your baby will be investigated for symptoms like fever, low platelet count and rashes in case you had dengue at the time of delivery.
How Is Dengue Fever Treated During Pregnancy?
Early diagnosis is significant in the effective treatment of dengue. Therefore, if flu-like symptoms persist or if you develop severe abdominal pain and vomiting after the fever subsides, go for a blood test to confirm dengue fever.
The treatment of dengue fever during pregnancy is same as that of any normal dengue fever case. Taking timely measures for safety will ensure that you and your baby are healthy.
- Over the counter medicines should be avoided in any circumstances during pregnancy
- Blood pressure and blood platelet level should be continuously monitored
- Mild to moderate cases of dengue can be effectively managed by taking acetaminophen and paracetamol, which can relieve the fever and body pain
- Plenty of fluids will help to keep dehydration (due to vomiting) at bay. Dehydration during pregnancy can affect the embryonic fluid level
- Plenty of rest
- In case of severe dengue fever, hospitalization and treatment in the intensive care unit may be needed
- Blood transfusion and infusion of blood platelets may be needed to bring the blood platelet count back to normal levels and to replace the blood lost through excessive bleeding
- Administrating oxygen may be needed if the oxygen level in the blood drops abnormally
- Administrating intravenous fluids will be required for rehydration, to correct the electrolytic imbalance if the dehydration is extreme
How To Prevent Dengue Fever During Pregnancy?
Dengue is transmitted through mosquito bites. Therefore, preventing the thriving of mosquitoes helps to prevent dengue fever during pregnancy. For this:
- Use mosquito repellents around the house that are safe during pregnancy
- Stay indoors in the early morning and late afternoon during which the Aedes mosquitoes are more active
- Stay inside mosquito net while taking rest
- Wear light-colored clothes that are long sleeved and covers your legs
- Mosquitos do not stay in cold temperature. Therefore, try to stay in an air-conditioned room
- Avoid any water stagnation around your home and keep your surroundings clean and hygienic, to prevent mosquitoes from thriving
- Covering the windows and door with wire mesh will also help to prevent mosquitoes from getting into your house