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Moms Need Immunizations

The recent outbreak of measles has public health experts concerned about the potential impact on pregnant women and those thinking about getting pregnant. The Utah Department of health is encouraging all women who are or could become pregnant to check with their health care provided to make sure they have received two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

The rubella virus has been shown to increase the risk for birth defects. When a woman gets rubella during her pregnancy, her baby is at risk to have congenital (present at birth) rubella syndrome. Some of the symptoms include: vision loss and other defects of the eye; congenital heart disease; hearing loss; bleeding underneath the skin which resembles bruises; enlargement of the liver and spleen; jaundice; small head size; and developmental delay.  Not all babies with congenital rubella syndrome will have all these symptoms.

Measles and mumps infections during pregnancy may cause complications such as miscarriage.

The MMR vaccine is a mixture of live, weakened viruses from measles, mumps, and rubella (also known as German measles). When a person receives this vaccine, he/she makes antibodies to the virus. These antibodies typically last throughout life and protect a person against the measles, mumps or rubella viral diseases. People who are vaccinated and develop antibodies will not get the virus if they are exposed again.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends avoiding pregnancy for 28 days after immunization with a rubella-containing vaccine.  It is very important that women have these immunizations before becoming pregnant, so they do not get the measles, mumps or rubella during pregnancy.

Data from a large sample of women receiving the MMR vaccine during pregnancy show no babies were born with congenital rubella syndrome and there was no increase in the rate of birth defects. That said, the safest approach is to get the vaccine before pregnancy. Also, new moms who are breastfeeding and are not immune to measles can get the MMR vaccine because it is safe while breastfeeding.

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