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Advice for pregnant travelers.

Advice for Pregnant Travelers

NEW HAVEN, CONN: Pregnant women can travel safely to most places without harming themselves or their fetuses, according to researchers from Yale University's School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. Certain precautions must be taken, however, to ensure that the fetus is not endangered, said Michele Barry, M.D., one of the researchers. "As a general rule, most live vaccines are best avoided entirely," he cautioned. "However, there are circumstances during which even they can, and should be, administered during pregnancy, such as when a pregnant woman needs immediate protection against poliomyelitis. Greater emphasis should be placed on preventive measures -- such as using water purification techniques to prevent typhoid -- rather than on immunization, the researcher said. The reduced air pressure in commercial airliners, which fly at altitudes 5,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level, usually causes no problems for pregnant women but may harm pregnant women who are anemic or have sickle cell anemia, and may require in-flight use of supplemental oxygen.

Women should request seats in the non-smoking section of the aircraft to avoid a decline in blood oxygen from exposure to the carbon monoxide of cigarette smoke, Dr. Barry suggests. To reduce the chance of developing blood clots, which occur more frequently during pregnancy, women should request an aisle seat, so they can "spend about 15 minutes each hour" walking about the airplane. While seated, seat belts should be worn over the lower pelvis.

Pregnant women should be discouraged from vacationing at altitudes above 7,000 feet, the authors said, because such trekking areas are remote, have a high incidence of enteric infections, and lack suitable medical care in case of an emergency. Because of the danger of traveling to areas where chloroquine-resistant malaria is endemic, pregnant women should think twice before traveling to such areas as east Africa and Thailand. Travel should be avoided altogether, the researchers said, "if multiple births are expected or if there is a history of pregnancy-induced hypertension or bleeding." (Journal of American Medical Association, 2:3:89.)
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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Mar 22, 1989
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