Dengue in pregnancy: Why you should be careful

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From January to July of 2017, 43,770 cases of dengue were reported throughout the Philippines. This makes it a real threat for pregnant women.

Dengue is a viral fever that no longer new in the Philippines. In fact, from January to July of 2017, 43,770 cases of dengue were reported throughout the country. The tropical climate teamed with breeding grounds for mosquitos make it difficult to control Dengue. To women, it is especially concerning to have dengue during pregnancy as poses a threat not only to the mother's health but also to her baby. Here's what you need to know about it.

Dengue fever and its effect on the body

Dengue is one of the viral fevers transmitted by mosquitoes. It starts with a high-grade fever. The patient generally notices pain - headaches, pain in the joints and legs. In addition, there might be a mild rash and be bleeding through nose and gums.

Dengue fever causes suppression and inactivation of platelets. Platelets are a vital component of the blood and are essential for clotting. In the absence of viable platelets, the body starts to bleed spontaneously and may cause the severe form of the fever - Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever.

However, the incidence of this severe form is low, and an early diagnosis usually prevents it. That said, any form of Dengue can be dangerous if it happens during pregnancy, and this is why.

Dengue during pregnancy

The dengue virus, like all other viruses, is tiny. It can cross the placenta and can enter the baby. So if dengue during pregnancy happens, it not only affects the mother, it also affects the growing foetus. If this happens, the chances of stillbirths are high. And if the baby is lucky enough, it may be born prematurely or with a low birth weight. So, a seemingly harmless disease can cause a lot of distress to the mother and the baby.

How is dengue treated?

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for Dengue. Fortunately, it runs its course and you get better. That said, even if it causes no direct damage to the body per se, the high fever can cause some complications.

Dehydration is common in an untreated case of Dengue. In addition, bleeding can happen externally or internally, so the doctor will keep a tab on the platelets. It causes a temporary bone marrow suppression, and in people who suffer from anaemia, this can cause complications.

So if the doctor suspects dengue, you would be admitted to the hospital and will receive plenty of fluids to keep you hydrated. In addition, your platelet count would be monitored during and after the fever, just to ensure that you do not start bleeding spontaneously.

Do's and Don'ts for Dengue

To reiterate, the symptoms of Dengue fever are

  1. High-grade fever
  2. headaches
  3. joint pain
  4. bleeding through gums or nose

If you feel you have Dengue, you can take Paracetamol for pain. DO NOT take medicines like Aspirin or even ibuprofen as these medicines inactivate the platelets and it will just add on to the complications.

During this or any other fever, always drink water frequently. An ORS solution is even better - try and finish at least 2 litres of ORS in 24 hours. Do not take cold baths to reduce the temperature.

And if you are pregnant, you should visit your doctor if you have any type of fever. Early diagnosis and prompt management can reduce the complications associated with it.

To sum it up

Don'ts

  • Don't take aspirin/ibuprofen
  • Don't take cold baths
  • Don't procrastinate
  • Avoid juices or glucose water-it will cause diarrhoea.

Do's

  • If you feel like, take paracetamol for pain
  • Have plenty of fluids, especially ORS
  • Visit your doctor if you are pregnant or if you suspect Dengue fever

Moms and dads, pregnancy is a delicate state and you should be extra careful during this phase. Take measures to prevent water-logging. This is where the mosquitoes breed. Use mosquito nets at night and use a safe mosquito-repellant during the dusk and dawn.

Stay safe, moms.

Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore