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Travel medicine and pregnancy. Dr Peter A. Leggat MD, PhD, DrPH, FAFPHM, FACTM, FACRRM Deputy Director and Associate Professor Anton Breinl Centre for Public Health and Tropical Medicine James Cook University, Australia. About the author.

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travel medicine and pregnancy

Travel medicine andpregnancy

Dr Peter A. Leggat

MD, PhD, DrPH, FAFPHM, FACTM, FACRRM

Deputy Director and Associate Professor

Anton Breinl Centre for Public Health and Tropical Medicine

James Cook University, Australia

about the author
About the author
  • Dr Peter Leggat has co-ordinated the Australian postgraduate course in travel medicine since 1993. He has also been on the faculty of the South African travel medicine course, conducted since 2000, and the Worldwise New Zealand Travel Health update programs since 1998. Dr Leggat has assisted in the development of travel medicine programs in several countries and also the Certificate of Knowledge examination for the International Society of Travel Medicine.
objectives
Objectives
  • In this session
    • Examine travel medicine and briefly list some of components that are needed in order to give correct health advice in the context of the pregnant traveler
    • Focus on some of the important issues in travel medicine and pregnancy
      • Air travel
      • Travel insurance
      • Malaria
      • Immunizations
slide4

The Continuum of Travel Medicine

Pre-Travel

Visitors

Preventive Medicine

During Travel

Contingency Planning

Post-Travel

Treatment & Rehabilitation

(Leggat et al., 2005)

general approach to the traveller
Risk assessment, determining the risks of the destination, mode of travel and the special conditions of the traveler

Vaccinate when possible and indicated;

Provide the traveler with appropriate empirical self-treatment

Consider chemoprophylaxis

Consider any concerns regarding underlying conditions and possible drug interactions

Consult experts in travel medicine or specialty areas as necessary

Educate the traveler

Remind the traveler that these precautions are not 100% protective

General Approach to the Traveller

(Ericsson, 2003)

travel medicine and pregnancy7
Travel medicine and Pregnancy
  • Mezger N et al. Travelling when pregnant. Rev Med Suisse. 2005; 11: 1263-1266. (in French)
    • Travel during the 2nd trimester
    • Favor comfortable type of travel, without long air or road transportation
    • Avoid traveling if at risk pregnancy
    • Check for adequate insurance coverage
    • Choose destination where good health services exist
    • Avoid region of high malaria endemicity
    • For any vaccination or medication risks and benefits should be carefully weighed, pregnant women are more vulnerable and at higher risk of complications
air travel during pregnancy
Air travel during pregnancy
  • ACOG committee opinion. Air travel during pregnancy. Int J Gyn Obst 2002;76:338-339.
    • “In the absence of obstetric or medical complications, pregnant women can observe the same general precautions for air travel as the general population and can fly safely up to 36 weeks of gestation.”
    • “Safest time is during the second trimester” (18-24 weeks)
air travel during pregnancy10
Air travel during pregnancy
  • AsMA. Medical Guidelines for airline travel. 2nd Ed. 2003. http://www.asma.org
    • “Pregnant women can normally travel safely by air, however most airlines restrict travel in late pregnancy”
  • After 28th week, doctor’s/midwife’s letter confirming EDD
    • Single pregnancies-flying permitted to end 36th weeks
    • Multiple pregnancies-flying permitted to end of the 32nd week
air travel during pregnancy12
Air travel during pregnancy
  • Breathnach F et al. Air travel in pregnancy: the \'air-born\' study. Ir Med J. 2004; 97: 167-168. (25% response)
    • Three of seventeen (17.5%) airlines applied no restrictions at all to pregnant passengers; the remainder applied restrictions to air travel with varying gestations (28 to 36 weeks).
    • A full delivery kit was carried by 5/17 airlines (29%), and some form of training in the management of a delivery was provided to the cabin crew in 12/17 airlines (70%).
    • Experience of in-flight obstetric emergencies was reported by 11/17 airlines (65%).
air travel during pregnancy13
Air travel during pregnancy
  • ACOG (2002) gives further advice
    • In-craft environmental conditions, such as low cabin humidity and changes in cabin pressure, coupled with the physiologic changes of pregnancy, do result in maternal adaptations, which could have transient effects on the fetus.
    • Pregnant air travelers with medical problems that may be exacerbated by a hypoxic environment, but who must travel by air, should be prescribed supplemental oxygen during air travel.
    • Pregnant women at significant risk for pre-term labor or with placental abnormalities should avoid air travel.
air travel during pregnancy14
Air travel during pregnancy
  • ACOG, 2002
    • Because air turbulence cannot be predicted and the risk for trauma is significant, pregnant women should be instructed to continuously use their seat belts while seated, as should all air travelers.
    • Pregnant air travelers may take precautions to ease in-flight discomfort, and although no hard evidence exists, preventive measures can be employed to minimize risks.
  • Anderson (2001) describes a possible risk
    • Pregnancy predisposes to a risk of superficial and deep venous thrombosis due to alterations in clotting factors and pressure of expanding uterus.
air travel during pregnancy15
Air travel during pregnancy
  • Freeman M et al. Does air travel affect pregnancy outcome? Arch Gynecol Obstet 2004;269:274-277. (small cohort study 222 pregnant women)
    • Findings suggest that air travel is not associated with increased risk of complications for pregnancies that reach 20 weeks\' gestation.
    • But there are some relative contraindications to travel
air travel during pregnancy16
Air travel during Pregnancy
  • Anderson (2001) citing CDC summarizes relative contraindications for travel during pregnancy
    • Medical risk factors
    • Obstetric risk factors
    • Travel to destination that may be hazardous
pregnancy and insurance
Pregnancy and insurance
  • Travel insurance is an important safety net for travelers
    • Covers emergency medical and dental care abroad (may also underwrite the treatment)
    • Provides emergency assistance hotline or telephone number
    • Usually can arrange for aeromedical evacuation where required Leggat et al., 1999
pregnancy and insurance19
Pregnancy and insurance
  • Kingman CE et al. Travel in pregnancy:pregnant women\'s experiences and knowledge of health issues. J Travel Med 2003; 10: 330-333. (138 pregnant women)
    • Long-distance travel is common in pregnancy, and women are not always adequately prepared in terms of insurance and travel advice
      • Half had traveled abroad in this pregnancy
      • > 1/3 of the women traveled without sufficient insurance
      • Only 1/3 sought advice prior to travel
pregnancy and insurance20
Pregnancy and insurance
  • Carroll D et al. The pregnant wilderness traveller. Travel Med Inf Dis (in press)
    • “Many travel insurance policies specifically exclude pregnancy”.
    • “Finding coverage is usually expensive.”
  • Jothivijayarani A. Travel considerations during pregnancy. Prim Care Update Ob/Gyns 2002; 9: 36-40.
    • “Many insurance plans do not cover pregnant women overseas and many plans have gestational cutoff dates for travel, beyond which they will not cover delivery out of the area”.
pregnancy and insurance21
Pregnancy and insurance
  • Leggat PA et al. Emergency assistance provided abroad to insured travellers from Australia. Travel Med Inf Dis. 2005;3:9-17 (>2000 claims)
    • 2.8 % of travel insurance claims involving provision of emergency assistance were for obstetric problems
what do we advise regarding insurance
What do we advise regarding insurance?
  • Take out travel insurance (that covers pregnancy if possible)
  • Regardless of insurance coverage, it is always best to check in advance regarding obstetrical care at the destination or medical evacuation should it become necessary.

Carroll et al. op cit

pregnancy and insurance23
Pregnancy and insurance
  • Take records (Carroll et al. op cit)
    • Documentation concerning EDD and normality of pregnancy
    • Copy of perinatal record
    • Other documentation as needed for travel
  • Know warning signs (Anderson, 2001)
    • Bleeding, passing tissues or clots
    • Abdominal pain or cramps
    • Rupture of membranes
    • Headache or visual changes
pregnancy and travel kit
Pregnancy and travel kit
  • Carroll et al (in press) op cit
    • Take a traveler’s medical kit to manage common conditions
pregnancy and antimicrobials
Recommended

Penicillins

Aminoglycosides

Cephalosporins

Macolides

Antifungals

Metronidazole

Praziquantel and other antiparasitics are probably safe

Not recommended

Kanamycin

Streptomycin

Tetracyclines

Griseofulvin

Quinolones (?safely)

Pregnancy and antimicrobials*

WHO, 2005 op cit

*antimalarials to be discussed separately

pregnancy and insurance last word contingency plans
Pregnancy and insurance: Last word-contingency plans
  • There are several agencies that may offer emergency assistance/assist with evacuation of pregnant women traveling abroad (examples)
    • IAMAT (http://www.iamat.org)
    • ISTM (http://www.istm.org)
    • International SOS
  • WWW resources
    • http://www.obgyn.net/country/country.asp provides country specific information

Jothivijayarani, 2002 Op Cit

pregnancy and malaria
Pregnancy and malaria
  • WHO. International Travel and Health. Geneva: WHO, 2005.
    • “Travel to malaria-endemic areas should be avoided during pregnancy, if at all possible”
    • “…or intend to get pregnant” (McGready et al, 2004)
    • Why?
pregnancy and malaria28
Pregnancy and malaria
  • WHO. International Travel and Health. Geneva: WHO, 2005.
    • Malaria increases risk of
      • maternal death,
      • miscarriage,
      • stillbirth, and
      • low birth weight with associated risk of neonatal death
pregnancy and malaria29
Pregnancy and malaria
  • WHO. International Travel and Health. Geneva: WHO, 2005.
    • “Pregnant women with falciparum malaria
      • May rapidly develop any of the clinical symptoms of severe malaria
      • Are particularly susceptible to hypoglycemia and pulmonary edema
      • May develop postpartum hemorrhage and hyperpyrexia leading to fetal distress”
pregnancy and malaria30
Pregnancy and malaria
  • WHO. International Travel and Health. Geneva: WHO, 2005.
    • Therefore, in relation to travelers, WHO recommends “Any pregnant woman with severe falciparum malaria should be transferred to intensive care”
pregnancy and malaria32
Pregnancy and malaria
  • Personal Protective Measures
    • Avoidance
    • Clothing
    • Insecticides
      • DEET
pregnancy and malaria33
Pregnancy and malaria
  • McGready R et al. Safety of insect repellent N,N-diethyl-M-toluamide (DEET) in pregnancy. Am J Trop Med Hyg 2001; 65: 285-289. (20% solution of DEET applied by women during 2nd and 3rd trimester)
    • Well accepted and no adverse effects in women
    • No increase in LBW, prematurity or congenital abnormality
    • DEET does cross placenta (8% of cord samples), although blood levels low
    • More information needed on safety of DEET in 1st trimester
pregnancy and malaria34
Pregnancy and malaria
  • McGready R et al. Malaria and the pregnant traveller. Travel Med Inf Dis 2004;2:127-142.
    • “Chemoprophylactic and treatment options for pregnant women (or those planning to conceive) are extremely limited and lag behind what can currently be offered to non-pregnant travellers”
pregnancy and malaria35
Pregnancy and malaria

Alternatives include:

  • chloroquine 300mg weekly + proguanil 200mg daily
  • Sulfadoxine-Pyrimethamine

Chemoprophylaxis

Recommended options

for chloroquine resistant areas

X

Mefloquine

250mg weekly

2nd/3rd trimester

Malarone

250mg/100mg daily

(from 2000)

Doxycycline

100mg daily

?

X

the flip side what if the woman is wanting to become pregnant
The flip side…. What if the woman is wanting to become pregnant?
pregnancy and malaria37
Pregnancy and malaria

McGready et al., 2004. Op Cit; WHO, 2005 Op Cit

what if the pregnant woman gets malaria
What if the pregnant woman gets “malaria”?
  • WHO (2005)
    • Take standby drug
    • Seek medical attention as soon as possible
pregnancy and malaria treatment
Recommended

Chloroquine

Chloroquine plus proguanil

Mefloquine (2nd and 3rd trimester)

Artemisinin

Clindamycin (limited data)

Quinine

Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine

Non-recommended

Doxycycline

Tetracycline

Artemether/lumfantrine (Coartem)

Atovaquone plus proguanil (Malarone)

Primaquine

Tafenoquine

Pregnancy and malaria treatment

WHO, 2005. Op Cit

pregnancy and malaria treatment40
Pregnancy and malaria treatment
  • WHO. International Travel and Health. Geneva: WHO, 2005.
    • “Because of the risk of quinine induced hyperinsulinemia and hypogycemia, artesunate and artemether are the drugs of choice for treatment of severe malaria in the 2nd and 3rd trimester.
    • Data on the use of artemisinin derivatives in the 1st trimester are limited.
    • However, neither quinine nor artemisinin derivatives should be withheld in any trimester if they are considered life saving for the mother.”
slide42
“Pregnancy should not deter a women from receiving vaccines that are safe and will protect her health and that of her child.”

WHO, 2005 op cit

pregnancy and vaccination
Pregnancy and vaccination
  • WHO. International Travel and Health. Geneva: WHO, 2005.
    • Killed or inactivated vaccines, toxoids and polysaccharides can generally be given during pregnancy, as can oral polio vaccine
    • Live vaccines are generally contraindicated because of largely theoretical risks to the baby
      • However risk and benefits need to be examined in some individual cases
      • Yellow fever vaccination may be considered after the 6th month of pregnancy, when the risk of exposure is deemed greater than the risk to the fetus
      • Pregnant women should be advised not to travel to areas where there is a risk of exposure to yellow fever
in brief examples of other conditions of concern
In brief, examples of other conditions of concern
  • Anderson, 2001
    • MVA are a common cause of trauma and death for all travelers
    • “Hepatitis E virus acquired during pregnancy has a particularly high case fatality rate (15-30%). Transmission of the virus occurs through fecal-oral exposure.”
  • WHO, 2005
    • In infection with American trypanosomiasis, “congenital infection is possible, due to parasites crossing the placenta during pregnancy.”
travel medicine and pregnancy46
Travel medicine and Pregnancy
  • Mezger N et al. Travelling when pregnant. Rev Med Suisse. 2005; 11: 1263-1266. (in French)
    • Travel during the 2nd trimester
    • Favor comfortable type of travel, without long air or road transportation
    • Avoid traveling if at risk pregnancy
    • Check for adequate insurance coverage
    • Choose destination where good health services exist
    • Avoid region of high malaria endemicity
    • For any vaccination or medication risks and benefits should be carefully weighed, pregnant women are more vulnerable and at higher risk of complications
further reading
Further Reading
  • Anderson S. Women’s health and travel. In. Zuckerman JN. Principles and Practice of Travel Medicine. John Wiley and Sons Ltd, 2001: 381-422.
  • World Health Organization. International Travel and Health. Geneva: WHO, 2005. URL: http://www.who.int/ith
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health Information for International Travel. URL: http://www.cdc.gov/travel
references
References
  • ACOG committee opinion. Air travel during pregnancy. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 2002 76: 338-339.
  • AsMA. Medical Guidelines for airline travel. 2nd Ed. 2003. http://www.asma.org
  • Anderson S. Women’s health and travel. In. Zuckerman JN. Principles and Practice of Travel Medicine. John Wiley and Sons Ltd, 2001: 381-422.
  • Breathnach F, Geoghegan T, Daly S, Turner MJ. Air travel in pregnancy: the \'air-born\' study. Ir Med J. 2004; 97: 167-168.
  • Carroll D, Van Gompel. The pregnant wilderness traveller. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. (in press)
  • Ericsson CD. Travellers with pre-existing medical conditions. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2003; 21: 181-188.
  • Freeman M, Ghidini A, Spong CY, Tchabo N, Bannon PZ, Pezzullo JC. Does air travel affect pregnancy outcome? Arch Gynecol Obstet 2004;269:274-277.
  • Jothivijayarani A. Travel considerations during pregnancy. Primary Care Update Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2002; 9: 36-40.
  • Kingman CE, Economides DL. Travel in pregnancy:pregnant women\'s experiences and knowledge of health issues. J Travel Med 2003; 10: 330-333.
  • Leggat PA, Carne J, Kedjarune U. Travel insurance and health. J Travel Med 1999; 6: 243-248.
  • Leggat PA, Ross MH, Goldsmid JM. Introduction to travel medicine. In: Leggat PA, Goldsmid JM, editors. Primer of travel medicine, 3rd ed. rev. Brisbane: ACTM Publications; 2005: 3-21.
  • Leggat PA, Griffiths R, Leggat FW. Emergency assistance provided abroad to insured travellers from Australia. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. 2005; 3: 9-17.
  • McGready R, Ashley EA, Nosten F. Malaria and the pregnant traveller. Travel Med Inf Dis 2004; 2: 127-142.
  • McGready R, Hamilton KA, Simpson JA et al. Safety of insect repellent N,N-diethyl-M-toluamide (DEET) in pregnancy. Am J Trop Med Hyg 2001; 65: 285-289.
  • Mezger N, Chappuis F, Loutan L. Travelling when pregnant. Rev Med Suisse. 2005;11:1263-6.
  • Steffen R, DuPont HL. Travel medicine: what’s that? J Travel Med 1994;1:1-3.
  • World Health Organization. International Travel and Health. Geneva: WHO, 2005. URL: http://www.who.int/ith
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