Dengue fever in pregnancy: Why you should be careful
In 2017 alone, more than 2500 patients have been diagnosed with Dengue fever in Singapore. And this is particularly dangerous in pregnancy.
Dengue is a viral fever that is seen quite frequently in Singapore. In fact, in 2017 alone, 2520 cases have been diagnosed with Dengue fever in Singapore. The tropical climate teamed with breeding grounds for mosquitos make it difficult to control Dengue. Normally, this looks more serious than it is, except when there is dengue fever in pregnancy.
As mentioned earlier, 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 fever in pregnancy can be dangerous, and this is why.
The dengue virus, like all other viruses, is tiny. It can cross the placenta and can enter the baby. So if Dengue fever happens during pregnancy, it not only affects the mother, it also affects the growing foetus. If you get dengue fever in pregnancy, 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.
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.
To reiterate, the symptoms of Dengue fever are
- High-grade fever
- joint pain
- bleeding through gums or nose
If you feel you have Dengue fever in pregnancy, 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, especially dengue fever in pregnancy.
To sum it up
- Don't take aspirin/ibuprofen
- Don't take cold baths
- Don't procrastinate
- Avoid juices or glucose water-it will cause diarrhoea.
- 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 in pregnancy
Mums 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, mums.
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