Protecting your pregnancy when travelling

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Travelling pregnant women should consult their doctor well in advance of their planned trip.

Travelling pregnant women should consult their doctor well in advance of their planned trip, according to Dr Pete Vincent of Netcare Travel Clinics and Medicross.

This was to obtain advice on what measures they should take to best protect their health and that of their unborn baby.

Vincent said inactive vaccines were considered safe during pregnancy and were also important for newborn babies.

“Pregnant travellers are advised to have the current southern hemisphere influenza vaccination at least two weeks prior to travelling, should they not already have done so.

“This is because pregnancy can make them more susceptible to complications should they contract flu, and it will also provide some protection for the newborn baby.”

Vincent said it was especially important for all women to be vaccinated between 27 and 36 weeks, during each of their pregnancies, with the inactive quadrivalent vaccine.

“It provides protection against whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria and polio, and also provides the newborn with maximum passive immunity from their mother.

“We would suggest that not just mothers-to-be, but anyone who is likely to come into contact with newborns, including fathers, childminders, siblings and grandparents, should be vaccinated against whooping cough.”

Vincent said it should be noted that active vaccines such as for measles, rubella and chickenpox, rabies and others may carry a theoretical risk for the foetus.

“These should not be administered during pregnancy unless there are special circumstances, for example, if the expectant mother may have been exposed to rabies.”

Expectant women who plan to visit an area where malaria was present should note that pregnancy greatly enhanced the risk of developing potential complications should they contract malaria.

“There is no safe anti-malaria prophylaxis available for pregnant women and areas where malaria is prevalent should be strictly avoided.

“Travel clinics are in constant contact with healthcare authorities around the globe in order to provide up-to-date information on health hazards and healthcare trends and are best placed to advise expectant mothers on how to protect their health during their travels.”


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