Doctors warn dengue-infected pregnant women against self-medicationWhile the virus could cause still and premature birth, doctors say self-medication could be equally dangerous.
Gynaecologists, as well as public health experts, have advised dengue-infected pregnant women to avoid self-medication as it has serious medical repercussions on the mother’s health and that of her unborn baby.
Dengue virus could easily transmit to babies which may cause stillbirth, low birth weight or premature birth, and self-medication could make matter worse, doctors have warned.
Medicines taken without expert’s consultation during pregnancy may also affect the health of the foetus and its overall development.
“We have to weigh the risk before prescribing medicines to pregnant women,” Dr Achala Vaidya, chief consultant gynaecologist and head of Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at Norvic International Hospital, told the Post. “We have to save the mother if her health is in danger.”
Dr Vaidya said that the dengue virus could cause severe complications in pregnant women including internal bleeding due to a sharp reduction in blood platelet count.
“It’s important to counsel pregnant woman and her family about the risks before prescribing any medicine,” she added.
Studies also show contracting dengue during pregnancy could cause congenital brain defects in babies.
Dr Kiran Regmi, a senior gynaecologist, said that no medicines should be given to pregnant women before first trimester (up to 12 weeks). “We do not even prescribe iron tablets in the first trimester,” said Regmi, “Medicines will affect the overall development of the foetus.”
She, however, said that if the mother’s health is at risk, the first priority should be given to saving her life. She said that chances of miscarriage become higher if pregnant women get infected with dengue virus and take medications for the same.
Dr Jageshwor Gautam, director at Paropakar Maternity and Women’s Hospital in Thapathali, has advised pregnant women not to take any medicine without consulting the doctor. “Fever can be brought down by cold compress or bathing,” said Gautam. “It is up to the doctors’ discretion to treat a patient and to take further steps if her health deteriorates.”
At least seven people have died, over 10,000 have been hospitalised due to dengue infection, according to Epidemiology and Disease Control Division. Hundreds of pregnant women have been diagnosed with dengue since it was first reported some five months ago.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease, which is transmitted by the female Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. The vectors that breed in clean water and are active during the day are the same vectors that transmit chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika virus, according to the World Health Organization.
According to doctors, mild to high fever, severe muscle pain, rashes, severe headache, and pain in the eyes are some of the symptoms of dengue.
The UN health agency says there is no specific treatment for severe dengue, but early detection and access to proper medical care can lower the fatality rate.