Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

What Obstetric Health Care Providers Need to Know About Measles and Pregnancy

Rasmussen, Sonja A. MD, MS; Jamieson, Denise J. MD, MPH

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000000903
Contents: Current Commentary

From January 1 to April 3, 2015, 159 people from 18 states and the District of Columbia were reported as having measles. Most cases are part of an outbreak linked to a California amusement park. Because measles was eliminated in the United States in 2000, most U.S. clinicians are unfamiliar with the condition. We reviewed information on the current outbreak, measles manifestations, diagnostic methods, treatment, and infection-control recommendations. To identify information on measles and pregnancy, we reviewed reports with 20 or more measles cases during pregnancy that included data on effects on pregnant women or pregnancy outcomes. These reports were identified through MEDLINE from inception through February 2015 using the following strategy: (((pregnan*) AND measles) AND English[Language]) NOT review[Publication Type]. Reference lists also were reviewed to identify additional articles. Pregnant women infected with measles are more likely to be hospitalized, develop pneumonia, and die than nonpregnant women. Adverse pregnancy outcomes, including pregnancy loss, preterm birth, and low birth weight, are associated with maternal measles; however, the risk of congenital defects does not appear to be increased. No antiviral therapy is available; treatment is supportive. Early identification of possible cases is needed so that appropriate infection control can be instituted promptly. The recent measles outbreak highlights the role that obstetric health care providers play in vaccine-preventable illnesses; obstetrician–gynecologists should ensure that patients are up to date on all vaccines, including measles-containing vaccines, and should recommend and ideally offer a measles-containing vaccine to women without evidence of measles immunity before or after pregnancy.

Obstetrician–gynecologists should be familiar with measles, including the increased risk for measles-associated complications seen among pregnant women and their newborns.

Division of Public Health Information Dissemination, Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services, and Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.

Corresponding author: Sonja A. Rasmussen, MD, MS, 1600 Clifton Road, MS E-33, CDC, Atlanta, GA 30333; e-mail:

The authors thank Dr. Greg Wallace, Lead, for CDC's Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Polio Team, for his helpful comments on the manuscript.

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

© 2015 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.