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Clin Infect Dis. 2014 Apr;58(8):1086-92. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciu037. Epub 2014 Jan 22.

Maternal, fetal, and neonatal outcomes associated with measles during pregnancy: Namibia, 2009-2010.

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Global Immunization Division, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.



Previous studies of maternal, fetal, and neonatal complications of measles during pregnancy suggest the possibility of increased risk for morbidity and mortality. In 2009-2011, a nationwide laboratory-confirmed measles outbreak occurred in Namibia, with 38% of reported cases among adults. This outbreak provided an opportunity to describe clinical features of measles in pregnant women and assess the relative risk for adverse maternal, fetal, and neonatal outcomes.


A cohort of pregnant women with clinical measles was identified retrospectively from 6 district hospitals and clinics over a 12-month period. Each pregnant woman with measles was matched with 3 pregnant women without measles, randomly selected from antenatal clinic registers at the same hospital during the same time interval. We reviewed hospital and clinic records and conducted in-person interviews to collect demographic and clinical information on the pregnant women and their infants.


Of 55 pregnant women with measles, 53 (96%) were hospitalized; measles-related complications included diarrhea (60%), pneumonia (40%), and encephalitis (5%). Among pregnant women with known human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status, 15% of those without measles and 19% of those with measles were HIV positive. Of 42 measles-related pregnancies with known outcomes, 25 (60%) had ≥1 adverse maternal, fetal, or neonatal outcome and 5 women (12%) died. Compared with 172 pregnancies without measles, after adjusting for age, pregnancies with measles carried significantly increased risks for neonatal low birth weight (adjusted relative risk [aRR] = 3.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.5-8.2), spontaneous abortion (aRR = 5.9; 95% CI, 1.8-19.7), intrauterine fetal death (aRR = 9.0; 95% CI, 1.2-65.5), and maternal death (aRR = 9.6; 95% CI, 1.3-70.0).


Our findings suggest that measles virus infection during pregnancy confers a high risk of adverse maternal, fetal, and neonatal outcomes, including maternal death. Maximizing measles immunity among women of childbearing age would decrease the incidence of gestational measles and the attendant maternal, fetal, and neonatal morbidity and mortality.


fetal outcome; maternal morbidity; measles; neonatal outcome; pregnancy

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