Measles in Babies- Everything You Should Know

It is always distressing for parents to see their little one getting vaccinated. It becomes emotionally challenging sometimes. It hurts us more than it does to the baby. At some point in time, those vaccines, vaccination room and the cry of your baby might have hard-pressed you to think if you should skip the vaccines. But unfortunately, Vaccinations can’t be skipped, especially, of a fatal disease like Measles.

What is Measles and its symptoms in babies?

Measles or rubeola or morbilli is highly contagious, potentially fatal disease that’s caused by a virus. It is best known for causing entire body skin rash. The first signs of Measles are flu like symptoms, such as fever, cough, runny nose and muscle aches. Later on, the Koplik’s spots which are tiny red spots with bluish white centres may appear on the inside of the mouth. The measles rash (red rash) begins on the forehead and gradually spread all over the body after 3-5 days of the first symptom exhibited.

Measles is usually diagnosed based on the symptoms displayed by baby or by a blood test to check for the presence of the virus.

How can your baby get measles?

When someone infected with virus coughs or sneezes, the tiny droplets containing the virus is sprayed into the air. These viruses in droplets could stay active for two hours. Your baby gets infected too if he comes in contact with these droplets. Measles could spread from skin-to-skin contact with someone hosting the virus.

Treating measles in babies

There is no treatment for measles. Like any other viruses, Rubeola has to run its course which could last for about 2 weeks. To control the symptoms such as fever, aches and pains, acetaminophen or ibuprofen could be given. Plenty of rest and fluids could make your child feel better.

Antibiotics could be prescribed only when there are complications such as bacterial infection.

Preventive measures

· Children above 12 months: The most important thing you could do to keep your child safe is getting him/her vaccinated with MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine. It is highly effective. It is given in two doses: one between 12 to 15 months and the second dose between 4 years to 6 years.

· Infants under 12 months: Generally, the vaccines are not given to the babies under 12 months because the immunity is passed on by the mother to babies. This protects the baby from measles for first 6 months. In case there is measles outbreak or a situation where the baby could get infected, the baby could be vaccinated with early MMR shot followed by the usual MMR vaccination schedule.

Caring for the baby during measles

· Make sure the baby gets lots of rest and keep him/her away from daycare or nursery to avoid spreading of measles.

· Offer your baby plenty of fluids such as water, juice, breast milk, formula milk, to prevent dehydration.

· Give infant paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease fever, pain and aches.

· Use salt water drops (saline) to clear the stuffy nose.

· Keep a bowl of water in baby’s room to make it more humid and help in relieving your baby’s cough.

· Never give your baby aspirin medicine as this could lead to the development of Reye Syndrome.

When to seek help?

If your baby displays any of the following behaviours, you should seek medical assistance immediately:

· Baby is struggling to feed or drink fluids.

· Urinating less than normal (for infants, dry nappies or less than 3 wet nappies in 24 hours)

· Difficulty breathing

· Very irritable and doesn’t want to be held

· Very tired, sleepy or drowsy.

· Develops worsening headache and crying inconsolably.

· Symptoms become worse suddenly.

· If the health condition doesn’t seem to be improving.

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