Fever in pregnancy: New studies report fever during pregnancy can affect a developing fetus
“Can a fever during pregnancy harm my baby?” is the most frequently asked question by many pregnant women. It could have popped up in your mind as well. This is quite natural to have such concerns regarding fever during pregnancy. Let us try to understand how far is your worry legitimate – and if at all it is worrisome then what sort of measure should you take to minimize the risk…
Here is what you should know about having a fever during pregnancy…
Being an expectant mom – like most expectant women – there could just be a possibility of feeling or experiencing occasional hot flushes. This could mostly be due to hormonal changes and the heat being radiated by your growing baby. Therefore, the important thing here is to know what is considered a fever and when should you check it with your doctor – what medicines to take and what measures to take to minimize the potential risks a fever might pose to your growing baby and you.
The huge concern nowadays is the rising number of COVID-19 cases – and if a pregnant woman has a high fever, then the first thing that comes to mind in this scenario is – “Is it due to COVID-19?”
What are the symptoms of fever during pregnancy?
A pregnant woman experiences fluctuation in temperature throughout the day. Therefore, a minor increase in temperature doesn’t mean fever.
A temperature reading above 990 F (37.40C) is considered as a fever.
The symptoms associated with fever during pregnancy are not very much different from those that you have when you were not expecting. The symptoms may include:
Fever, weakness, muscle aches, dehydration, chills, sweating, loss of appetite, irritability – and sometimes shivering.
What are the causes of fever in pregnancy?
Knowing the cause is important: There must be some reason behind your fever. It could be a regular cold infection or flu and could also be a urinary tract infection (UTI) – which on most occasions is not good. Fever due to UTI can cause complications – so is the case with some serious bacterial and parasitic infections.
For these reasons, it is pertinent to bring all the symptoms associated with the fever to the notice of your obstetrician. Never miss seeing your obstetrician and gynaecologist if you have a fever during pregnancy.
What are the complications for the growing baby if a pregnant woman has a fever during or before pregnancy?
Fever in the early pregnancy – especially during the first trimester is something to be worried about as it can affect the normal development of the baby.
According to a study done by Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center in association with CDC – women who had a fever before or during pregnancy were reported to have a baby with a neural tube defect compared to those who didn’t have a fever. In addition, the study also reported that women who were taking adequate folic acid daily didn’t show an increased risk of having a baby born with a neural tube defect.
The study also revealed that women who had a fever and didn’t take adequate folic acid had a maximum risk of giving birth to a baby with neural tube defects.
In general, a high fever (1030F) during early pregnancy increases the risk of:
- Abortion (spontaneous abortion)
- Spinal cord defects
- Congenital heart defects
- Oral clefts
According to one study, fever during the second trimester of pregnancy can increase the risk of Autism. In addition,
Fever in the later stages of pregnancy increases the risk of Preterm labour.
How to Prevent fever during pregnancy?
To prevent fever during pregnancy:
- Take care of your health
- Adopt personal hygiene
- Wash your hands regularly
- Don’t visit any sick person
- Isolate yourself from sick persons in your home as well
Your gynaecologist and obstetrician – first of all, try to diagnose the underlying cause. Based on the diagnosis, they may prescribe appropriate medications to treat the condition that is causing the fever.
High fever, back pain and blood in urine, nausea and vomiting may indicate urinary tract infection or kidney infection. You must see your gynaecologist to rule out the cause and get the appropriate treatment.
Usually, the treatment of fever involves the use of antipyretics as directed by your doctor to lower maternal temperature and other medicines that are directed at the cause.
Pregnant women or those who are planning to get pregnant should talk to their obstetrician to discuss about the risk factors and individual risks. They should also consider taking steps to prevent infections during all stages of pregnancy in order to minimize the risk of complications.
When to see your doctor?
You should seek immediate care if you have the following symptoms during pregnancy: severe cramps, light-headedness, breathing difficulty, cough, dark urine, low urine output, severe thirst and decreased movement of the fetus.
Remember! Fevers usually don’t cause any severe complications – but during pregnancy, they must not be ignored. Never take any over-the-counter medicines without informing your doctor. Seek help from your doctor if the fever is not getting down and if it is persistent. If you have any other questions related to fever during pregnancy – meet me personally by fixing an appointment.