Guard against seasonal illnesses: Pregnant women and newborn babies need more caution as weather changes

Changing nature of pollens and active microbes pose increased risk of infections and allergies, say doctors at Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula

Panchkula, 2017:  As spring approaches, there is obvious relief from the freezing winters and cold-related conditions such as joint pain. However, changing temperatures and environmental conditions tend to increase the risk of allergies and infections, particularly among newborn babies and pregnant women.
Guard against seasonal illnesses: Pregnant women and newborn babies need more caution as weather changes

Doctors at Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula are advocating greater caution for newborn babies and pregnant women as the weather shifts towards warmer climes. Both would-be-mothers and infants have low immunity levels and this makes them more vulnerable to health problems associated with seasonal change. Not only does seasonal change make pregnant women more vulnerable to infections, it can also aggravate both physical and emotional health issues.

Elaborating on the subject, Dr Monica Agarwal, Consultant Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula says: “As the weather changes, it brings about a complete change in the environmental conditions. When it comes to women, hormonal and physical changes due to pregnancy mostly result in somewhat complicated implications within their bodies. Seasonal change can directly or indirectly pose physical discomfort during the months of pregnancy as the weather frequently and randomly shifts from being hot and humid to wet and cool and so on”.

“Heat and humidity combined can take a toll on the overall well-being of pregnant women. In fact, some women may already possess a certain degree of heat intolerance, causing them rashes or cramps. Not only that, it can also lead to headaches, dizziness, early exhaustion, depression, mood swings and overall deterioration of emotional health (termed as seasonal affective disorder),” adds Dr Monica Agarwal, Consultant Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula.
At the same time, pregnancy induces changes in a woman’s immune system. To be precise, it lowers the body’s immune defenses to ensure that the uterus doesn’t reject the fetus as a ‘foreign body’. While this lowered immunity is absolutely necessary, it makes a would-be-mother vulnerable to catching infections such as common cold and cough.

In fact, flu can have serious consequences on the health of both the mother and the baby. Changes in the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women more prone to severe illness from flu. In some cases, this can also have detrimental effect on the baby including premature labor and delivery. It is therefore extremely important to exercise caution and adopt high standards of hygiene during pregnancy. Getting a flu shot is also recommended.

The seasonal transition period also provides a fertile ground for infants to fall sick, mostly due to sudden dramatic fluctuations in their body’s internal temperature, exposure to infections and lack of resistance.

“If you have a newborn baby at home, you must exercise greater caution during this time of the year, especially if this is his/her first time encounter with the season change. The new set of bacteria and viruses that thrive during this period can trigger various diseases and infections among the newborns. As they are the ones yet to develop acquired immunity for many infections and tend to lose heat quickly, these infections can even turn out to life-threatening in some cases,” says Dr Jyoti Chawla, Senior Consultant Paediatrics, Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula.

Babies are highly susceptible to respiratory problems before the age of 6 months, so it is vital to take extra care in protecting them during the period of extreme sensitivity and not lower the guard all of a sudden, inform doctors.

“Climatic change patterns are difficult to adapt for the newborns, and more so if the surroundings are not healthy. Even as the weather starts warming up, do not lower the guard for your children and cover them up well in protective layers. Also remember that probably easiest way for babies to get sick is by catching the infection from an already infected person who maybe taking care of the kid. It becomes all the more important during the season change period to maintain hygienic habits around your little one to limit his/her exposure to microbes which can cause acute communicable diseases,” adds Dr Dr Jyoti Chawla, Senior Consultant Paediatrics, Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula.

Here are few tips which will help in easing into season change patterns conveniently:

For would-be-moms
·         Wear lightweight cotton or linen clothes as these will allow good airflow. While going outdoors, you may wrap a cool and scarf around the neck.
·         Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, even if you do not feel thirsty.
·         Take a balanced diet, as advised by your doctor. Avoid junk food.
·         Take help from family, friends or a support group to cope with emotional stress.
·         Indulge yourself in swimming or low impact physical activity like aerobics. However, remember not to overdo it.
·         Get a flu shot administered; also ensure high level of hygiene
For infants
·         Keep them away from the contact of sick individuals.
·         Parents and other caretakers must exercise a routine of hand washing with sanitizers before handling the infant.
·         Stick to breastfeeding, unless otherwise advised by your doctor. Breast milk helps in building immunity in newborns.
·         Dress up your kid in warm layers, especially if you are taking him/her out during the evening sunset.
·         Figure out a time of the day when the newborn is less likely to feel cold and give him/her a warm water bath during that period.
·         Consider using humidifiers or air purifiers indoors, if required