By anguillian August 21, 2017 12:00




Pregnancy is affected by many factors, but high temperatures can pose several challenges to a woman who is pregnant. High temperatures have been associated with problems in both the early part of pregnancy and in late stages of pregnancy.

Effects of excessive heat in early pregnancy
It is generally known the pregnant women are more sensitive to heat at all stages of their pregnancy, but there is reason to be concerned when pregnant women in the early stages of pregnancy are exposed to excessively high temperatures, such as the temperatures we are now experiencing in Anguilla.
Several studies have suggested that babies can be affected by heat during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

A study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 2005 found that exposure to high temperatures in the first three months could lead to babies being born with a slightly lower birth weight.

Such babies are prone to a low IQ and learning disabilities. They are also more likely to exhibit behavioural problems at school.

Effects of excessive heat in late pregnancy
Women should also take care during late pregnancy. High temperatures have been shown to lead to premature labour and an increased rate of miscarriage as well.

General effects of high temperatures on pregnancy
It is well known that excessive heat can cause dehydration, fainting and dizziness, and increases in urinary tract infections. It impacts amniotic fluid levels and pregnancy constipation. Very high temperatures can negatively affect all pregnant women, especially those with pre-existing medical disorders such as heart disease and anaemia.

How can pregnant women reduce the risk associated with high temperatures?

Women in all stages of pregnancy should be aware of the health risk surrounding increases in temperature. In Anguilla, the temperatures are extremely high in the months of July, August and September. Women should not panic but should talk to their obstetrician or healthcare provider. Several strategies can be adopted.
To decrease the risk associated with very high temperatures, pregnant women should stay out of the sun, wear loose clothing, keep well hydrated and eat healthy foods at all times. Fresh coconut water is a good drink to prevent dehydration. Women should avoid the high fructose sugary drinks.

Other steps
Pregnant women should take steps to protect themselves. These include dressing appropriately in hot weather by wearing a hat and light, loose clothes made from a natural fibre such as cotton.
Pregnant women should also stay in the shade between 10 am and 4 pm when the sun is at its hottest. These women should do outdoor tasks in the morning or evening when the sun is lower and temperatures are cooler.

Pregnant women should also avoid strenuous exercise which can raise the body temperature even further. Light to moderate exercise is okay, provided women consulted their obstetrician.

Mothers-to-be should also avoid tea, coffee and alcohol which can all increase the risk of dehydration.
Pregnant women should ask for help if they are too tired to cook, clean or run errands. They should discuss with their obstetrician if they cannot cope with the excessively high temperatures.

All pregnant women are aware of the signs and symptoms associated with pregnancy, but many are not aware of the effects of extremely high temperatures on themselves and their developing babies. The effects can occur during all stages of the pregnancy. Despite the very high temperature we are now having in Anguilla, there are ways pregnant women can decrease the risks and have successful pregnancies. Pregnant women are strongly urged to keep out of the hot sun throughout pregnancy. If they do have to go outdoors they should dress appropriately. Staying hydrated at all times and adopting healthy eating habits can go a long way in coping with the excessively high temperatures during these months.

Ask Your Doctor is a health education column and is not a substitute for medical advice from your physician. The reader should consult his or her physician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field are ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.

Dr Brett Hodge MB BS DGO MRCOG, is an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist and Family Doctor who has over thirty-two years in clinical practice. Dr Hodge has a medical practice in The Johnson Building in The Valley (Tel: 264 4975828).

By anguillian August 21, 2017 12:00


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