Dengue Outbreak: Pregnant women more vulnerable

As a deadly dengue outbreak tightens its grip across the country, an escalating number of lives are being claimed each day.

Meanwhile, there lies a group at an even greater risk — pregnant women.

These expectant mothers face an alarming vulnerability, as the disease threatens not only their lives but also the lives of their unborn children.

Yesterday, two pregnant government officials fell victim to the dengue outbreak in Dhaka. SM Nazia Sultana, a senior assistant secretary of the commerce ministry, and Kanta Biswas, an assistant director of the Public Account Department of Bangladesh Bank, both passed away while undergoing treatment at separate city hospitals, confirmed family members and colleagues.

Both women were eight months pregnant.

Nazia got into public service following the 30th BCS while Kanta was appointed in the Bangladesh Bank as an assistant director in 2019.

According to doctors, infants (below one year), pregnant women, obese and elderly people (above 65-year of age) are the high-risk groups.

These dengue patients will have to remain under constant observation of doctors, said HM Nazmul Ahsan, associate professor at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital.

He said after being diagnosed with dengue, a pregnant patient must be admitted to a hospital immediately, as they need extra care.

“There are two parts in blood pressures — systolic and diastolic. In the case of pregnant women, the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure remains normally high, so doctors have to treat them differently as compared to a normal patient,” he explained.

Nazmul said when the gap of a dengue patient’s systolic and diastolic blood pressures remains less than 20, it means the patient has gone into shock. But a pregnant woman can go into shock when the gap is 30.

He said the pulse volume of a pregnant person also remains high compared to a normal person. When the pulse volume becomes low, it means the patient is under serious problem, he added.

“There are many challenging factors which we keep in mind while treating a pregnant woman,” he said.

The dengue virus also can be transmitted to the  baby which remains in the womb, Nazmul added.

Besides, providing fluid to a pregnant woman also requires a lot of thinking.

“We provide fluid to a patient observing hematocrit. When the amount of hematocrit increases over 10 percent, it means their fluid level has gone out and plasma leak has My News Bangladeshted. And when the amount of the hematocrit is 20 percent high or more compared to its normal level, we consider a significant amount of water has been released,” he added.

“This hematocrit remains normally low for the pregnant woman, meaning  measurement for a pregnant woman is little different here. So, if the amount increases even slightly, we have to be cautious,” he added.

Hematocrit, also known by several other names, is the volume percentage of red blood cells in blood, measured as part of a blood test. The measurement depends on the number and size of red blood cells.

It is normally 40–42 percent for men and 35 to 36 percent for women and children, Nazmul explained.

According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), almost two-thirds of the total dengue patients this year are male. However, among the deaths, the number of female is higher than the males.

Of the 201 deaths so far this year, 114 are female and 87 are male.

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