Mumps in Pregnancy – Should You Be Concerned?
Mumps is an infection which is generally observed in children. But it may also affect a pregnant woman in the early stages of her pregnancy. If this infection is left unattended, it may lead to severe complications. Although the first infection usually imparts an immunity for life within the body, it is best not contracted when you are pregnant.
What Is Mumps?
Mumps is an infection that manifests in the body in the form of swelling of the glands that make saliva, causing immense pain. In certain cases, various other areas of the body may undergo swelling and inflammation as well.
What Causes Mumps?
A paramyxovirus causes mumps. It easily spreads by airborne droplets of infected saliva. It may spread when a contaminated person coughs or sneezes, thereby releasing the pathogens in the air. Anyone coming in contact with these pathogens can easily get infected.
How Common Is Mumps in Pregnant Women?
In recent years, the instances of mumps have reduced drastically since most people are vaccinated against it via the triple MMR vaccine. As for pregnant women being infected with mumps, the chances of it happening are barely 1 in 1000.
Who Is At the Risk of Getting Mumps During Pregnancy?
Mumps exposure in pregnancy is not a given. Most women would have had the MMR vaccine when they were young, and hence may have the required immunity to protect themselves from it. Even if the vaccine has not been administered, contracting mumps earlier in life does develop immunity for it. An absence of either case can put a pregnant woman at a high risk of contracting mumps, especially if she comes in contact with a person who has mumps in the first place.
Is Mumps Contagious?
Mumps is extremely contagious and can spread from one person to another quite easily. An infected person sneezing or coughing can expel the pathogens in the air. At the same time, coming in close contact with the person or using common objects can further make it easier to be infected.
Signs and Symptoms of Mumps
Not all people show signs of mumps until it reaches a severe stage. Most of the other symptoms can be easily recognised.
- It initially starts with a fever and headache, followed by pain in the neck, abdomen, and the back.
- In the case of men, there are chances of mumps resulting in orchitis, which is the term used to describe a painful swelling of the testicles. This usually occurs a week following the painful swelling of the neck, but rarely affects fertility in any way.
- For women, oophoritis is a possibility due to mumps where the ovaries undergo inflammation, which is painful but does not affect fertility.
- In extremely rare cases, people have suffered from a brain infection due to mumps or have had a substantial loss in hearing as a result of it.
What Are the Complications of Mumps During Pregnancy?
The effect of mumps in pregnancy is two-fold since there is a chance it will affect the mother as well as the child.
1. Risks for the Mother
A pregnant woman who has mumps is at risk of developing swelling in the ovaries as well as in different parts of the breasts. The severity of the infection is the same as that of any other individual, as fever and headache might make the pregnancy difficult.
2. Risks for the Baby
Contracting mumps in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy has been considered to increase the risk of miscarriage for the foetus. But, there is no link between mumps and birth defects as it rarely affects the baby even if it is present in the placenta.
How Is Mumps Treated During Pregnancy?
The right way to treat mumps is by administering the triple MMR vaccine early in life, but it should be avoided if you are pregnant. Conception should proceed only after a couple of months following the vaccination. Taking ample rest and following a diet rich in soups and fluids can provide relief from the painful swelling.
Contracting mumps in the second trimester of pregnancy is not as risky as compared to contracting in the first 12 weeks. Most women are already vaccinated against mumps. It works in your interest to be aware of the signs and keep away from people who might have any symptoms of mumps.
Also Read: How to Treat Rubella in Pregnancy?