Pregnant women urged to be proactive, get measle vaccine checks

The AM Show 02/10/2019

Pregnant woman are being urged to be proactive and check their measles vaccinations.

On Tuesday, Auckland health officials confirmed five pregnant people had caught measles during the latest outbreak, with two of the fetuses dying.

It can't be known for sure if the babies died directly from measles, with one death associated with other complications. Instead, their deaths are being classified as the result of "serious complications potentially related to maternal measles".

Both fetal losses occurred in the second trimester.

"One fetal loss was associated with a range of other complications... the fetal loss events were not recorded as cases of measles and therefore were not notified to ARPHS [Auckland Regional Public Health Service]," an interim report on measles hospitalisations in Auckland said.

Ady Priday from the New Zealand College of Midwives said women are interested in finding out about their immunity, but it's important to remember that while the deaths are devastating, they are also rare.

"Something in my 24 years that I have never seen. Certainly, we test for Rubella in the very first part of pregnancy, it is one of the recommended tests," she told Newshub.

"I have had some women asking about their immunity or finding out about their immunity because they were concerned about whether they were putting themselves or their unborn babies at risk."

According to the Ministry of Health, women shouldn't be immunised against measles while pregnant. Most who are immune to rubella will have measles immunity.

However, Priday urges pregnant women to get a vaccine check-up and if they act early, there options to keep them cared for.

"At some stages, you may be able to be offered immunoglobulins, but that is a discussion you would need to have with your GP," she said.

Immunoglobulins can help prevent the development of measles if the woman is not vaccinated.

Pregnant people are at no greater risk than others at getting measles, but the ministry says people who believe they may have come in contact with the disease should get in touch with their GP or lead maternity carer as soon as possible. They can also contact Healthline on 0800 611 116.

There have been more than 1300 confirmed cases of measles in the Auckland region.

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Jamie Ensor