Dengue and Pregnancy: Risks, Prevention, and Safety Measures
Dengue cases are on the rise in the capital, with alarm bells ringing due to the 105 reported cases last week. According to a Hindustan Times report, these numbers mark the highest reported cases till August 5 in the last five years. As the mosquito-borne disease spreads rapidly, it’s crucial for vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, to take precautions to protect their health. Dengue not only poses a risk to pregnant women but can also lead to complications for newborns, including premature birth and pregnancy-related deaths.
Understanding Dengue and Its Symptoms
Dengue is a viral infection transmitted through the bites of infected Aedes mosquitoes, which are more active during the monsoon season. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and may include:
- High fever
- Severe headache
- Joint and muscle pain
- Skin rash
In severe cases, dengue can progress to dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) or dengue shock syndrome (DSS), both of which can be life-threatening.
Why Pregnant Women Are at Higher Risk
Pregnant women are at an elevated risk of dengue for several reasons:
- Immune System Changes: Pregnancy leads to changes in the immune system to support fetal growth. These changes can increase the risk of infections like dengue.
- Hormonal Effects: Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can impact the severity of the disease if contracted.
- Complications: Dengue infection during pregnancy can lead to complications for both the mother and baby, including premature birth, low birth weight, and even fetal death.
Precautions During Monsoon Season
With the monsoon season in full swing, the risk of mosquito-borne diseases like dengue is higher. Pregnant women should take proactive measures to protect themselves during this critical time. Here are some precautions to follow:
- Use Mosquito Repellent: Apply mosquito repellents containing DEET, picridine, or lemon eucalyptus oil on exposed skin and clothing. Pregnant women should choose products safe for use during pregnancy and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Wear Protective Clothing: Opt for long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed shoes, especially when spending time outdoors. These provide an additional layer of protection against mosquito bites.
- Stay Indoors During Mosquito Activity Times: Mosquitoes are most active during the morning and evening. Pregnant women should avoid outdoor activities during these times and opt for indoor spaces with screened windows and doors.
- Eliminate Standing Water: Mosquitoes thrive in stagnant water, so it’s crucial to remove any standing water around the house. Regularly check and empty water from buckets, flower pots, and bird baths to eliminate potential breeding sites.
- Install Screens: Properly maintained window and door screens can effectively prevent mosquitoes from entering your home, creating a barrier against disease-carrying insects.
- Use Mosquito Nets: When sleeping, use mosquito nets to ensure a peaceful and bite-free night’s rest, especially if you live in or are traveling to areas with a high mosquito population.
Seeking Medical Attention
If a pregnant woman suspects she has dengue or experiences related symptoms, seeking immediate medical attention is crucial. Dengue can be particularly severe during pregnancy, and early diagnosis and treatment are essential for the well-being of both mother and baby. Any signs of reduced platelet counts or bleeding should prompt a visit to the hospital.
Additional Steps to Prevent Dengue During Pregnancy
- Consult Your Doctor: Pregnant women should discuss the specific risk of dengue with their healthcare provider. The doctor can assess the risk and provide personalized safety measures.
- Stay Vigilant Regardless of Location: Mosquitoes can travel over long distances, making dengue a concern even in areas not typically associated with the disease. Pregnant women should remain cautious and take precautions regardless of their location.
- Know the Symptoms: Familiarize yourself with dengue symptoms, as they can often be mistaken for other illnesses. If experiencing symptoms like high fever, severe headache, joint and muscle pain, or rash, seek medical diagnosis immediately.
By following these precautionary measures and seeking early medical attention if needed, pregnant women can significantly reduce the risk of contracting dengue during the monsoon season. Protecting oneself from mosquito bites is not only crucial for the pregnant mother but also for the health and safety of her precious baby. Remember, staying informed and active is key to a healthy and happy pregnancy journey during the monsoon season.