In the United States, like in most developed countries, measles has been virtually
eliminated following the policy of compulsory vaccination. Before the introduction
of vaccination in the mid-1960s, there were over half a million cases of the infection
annually. In 2004, there were only 37 cases throughout the country. The risk is therefore
very small indeed.
If you become exposed to measles while you are pregnant, don't panic. That is the
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 % 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.
Exposure to measles without being aware
Of-course it is possible to be exposed to measles without being aware. Again, this
is a very 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 labor 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. Efforts to suppress labor are not always
Measles vaccine during pregnancy
Vaccination for measles employs a live (weakened) virus and no such vaccination can
be given during pregnancy.
Inadvertent vaccination against Measles during pregnancy
It is essential to check a woman’s menstrual history before vaccinating her against
measles or any other infection for that matter. Some will go so far as to perform
a pregnancy test, to avoid any mishap. However, cases of vaccination during pregnancy
have been reported. No adverse effects to the babies have been observed and therefore,
even in such an accident, there is really no question of recommending termination