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Traveling Abroad During Pregnancy

People and animals in different parts of the world can carry diseases that are foreign to our bodies. Because of these differences, some countries require that people be vaccinated before they travel there so they will be immune to certain diseases. Find out which are needed for the countries you plan to visit through the Centers for Disease Control's Web site. Also check on those that are required to get back into the United States. If you have not already received one of the necessary vaccines, it's not recommended that you receive it during pregnancy.

 

Before you even plan your trip, discuss your medical condition and your destination with your doctor. Some overseas destinations are not considered safe for pregnant women. If you and your doctor have agreed on your destination, find out about all the steps you should take before departing, such as having a full checkup or getting started on a prescription. Also get a copy of your medical record to take with you.

Regardless of your destination, it's important to find a doctor to contact in case of an emergency. And the odds are that your doctor won't have anyone to recommend if you're traveling overseas. Find out where medical facilities and doctors are in the countries you plan to visit. If possible, contact these hospitals before you go to find a doctor who speaks English. Also speak with your insurance company to inform them of your trip and find out what medical visits or procedures would be covered.

Travel in other countries brings you in contact with diseases that are not common in the United States. Natives of a country are used to the organisms found in the food and water, but the same organisms can make a visitor ill. As a rule, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid tap water and undercooked meat while visiting another country. There may be some countries or American resorts where this is not the case, so speak with your doctor about it if you have any doubts. Here are some ways to avoid unsafe food and water:

  • Drink only bottled water, bottled or canned soft drinks, hot tea or broth. Iodine used to purify water may not be safe for pregnant women.
  • Don't use ice in your drinks and don't use glasses that could have been washed in tap water. Drink out of the bottle or use paper cups.
  • Avoid fresh fruits and vegetables unless they have been cooked or can be peeled.
  • Stay away from raw or lightly cooked meat. It can contain organisms that cause toxoplasmosis. This disease may injure the fetus.
  • Make sure the milk you drink has been pasteurized.

Eating or drinking these unsafe organisms can cause traveler's diarrhea -- which may be a minor nuisance to someone who is not pregnant, but is a greater concern for pregnant women. If you do get diarrhea, drink plenty of fluids. Do not take any medication without checking with a doctor first. A doctor can arrange for medication that is safe for use during pregnancy.

Source: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Copyright © 2001 Meredith Corporation.

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