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Q: How can childhood illness affect my pregnancy?

Posted February 06, 2013 in Advice Column, Johnston

A: Some illnesses are thought of as childhood problems, but adults also can get them. These illnesses, which are caused by viruses, include chickenpox, Fifth disease, rubella, measles and mumps.

People who have had these illnesses are immune to them and most likely will not get them again. Other people are immune because they have had vaccines. Many people have had vaccines for rubella, measles and mumps. Some also have had a vaccine for chickenpox.

If you are pregnant or thinking about having a baby, talk to your doctor about childhood illnesses. Tell him or her which vaccines you have had and when you had them. Also, tell your doctor if you have been around a person who has, or may have, a childhood illness.

Many vaccines should not be given during pregnancy. If you are not immune to childhood illnesses, try to get vaccinated before you become pregnant. If you are pregnant now, plan to get the vaccines before you become pregnant again, and avoid close contact with people who have, or may have, childhood illnesses. Severe problems from childhood illnesses during pregnancy are rare. However, if you are not immune and think you have been exposed to a childhood illness, talk to your doctor. He or she may suggest treatment to help prevent problems for you and your baby. He or she also may want to watch for problems that could be caused by the illness.

Information provided by West Des Moines OBGYN, 4949 Westown Parkway, Suite 140, West Des Moines, 515-223-5466.

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