Planning an exotic trip? Aware of potential risks and know how to avoid them? That is very good but may not work if you are pregnant. The more so, some of them like vaccination can seriously harm you and your unborn baby.
Many medicines and vaccines are not studied enough in terms of their effect on pregnancy. Usually manufacturers do not hide the fact their vaccine is unsafe for pregnant women and recommend to avoid it or use it with caution. Still, to know about potential danger is always good for you.
Many exotic countries require immunizations which cannot be given to pregnant women. Live viral vaccines should be avoided as their effect poses risk to the developing fetus. They include measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chicken pox) vaccines. Live vaccines are made of live viruses and may infect you and your unborn baby with the disease. Live bacterial vaccines such as oral typhoid fever vaccine have not been studied enough and their safety is not secure for pregnant women.
Among those considered to be safe for both expectant mother and fetus are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and tetanus-diphtheria vaccines. They are recommended if a pregnant woman is at risk of getting these diseases.
Immunization against yellow fever and oral polio can be used if there is a substantial risk of infection, otherwise, should be avoided at least within the first trimester of pregnancy. If the risk of getting the infection is low but a vaccination certificate is required to enter the country, your physician can issue a waiver letter to excuse you from this requirement.
What poses a real danger for pregnancy is malaria. There are different types of the disease, so a safe medication like chloraquine would not always be effective. It will not help against resistant malaria found in some countries of Africa, Asia and South America. Such type of malaria requires the use of mefloquine (Lariam) or doxycycline. Earlier both were considered to be dangerous for pregnancy but now it is stated that mefloquine can be taken safely by pregnant women.
Be reasonable about traveling to underdeveloped countries or areas where a serious disease is widespread. For you, being pregnant, it is doubly dangerous. If you still have to go there when pregnant let your doctor weigh all the potential risks of vaccination and infection. And do not forget about general precautions during your travel around exotic (but sometimes risky) places.