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Who is at Highest Risk for Suffering Complications from Measles?

Who is at highest risk for complications from measles?
Image source: CDC PHIL

Children under 5 and adults over 20 are most at risk for complications from measles.1 Undernourished or vitamin A-deficient children, and individuals with immunosuppressive diseases such as HIV/AIDS, are at highest risk of severe complications.2  Persons with congenital immunodeficiencies and those requiring chemotherapeutic and immunosuppressive therapy are also at a high risk for complications from measles.3 4 Adults who contract measles are more at risk of developing acute measles encephalitis than children.5

Pregnant women who contract measles may be at higher risk for developing complications including miscarriage, pre-term labor, and low birth weight infants. Birth defects have not been associated with measles infection.6

Studies also show that complication rates and deaths are significantly higher, and recovery times longer, in infants and children who acquire measles in healthcare settings such as hospitals.7

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Measles and the Measles vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents , which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.

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1 CDC Measles – Complications. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (The Pink Book). 13th ed. 2015.

2 World Health Organization Measles. May 9, 2019

3 CDC Measles (Rubeola) For Healthcare Professionals May 18, 2018

4 Sabella C. Measles: Not just a childhood rash Cleve Clin J Med 2010 Mar. 77(3):207-213

5 Fox A, Hung TM, Wertheim H, et al. Acute measles encephalitis in partially vaccinated adults. PLoS One. 2013 Aug 13;8(8):e71671

6 CDC Measles – Complications. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (The Pink Book). 13th ed. 2015.

7 Markowitz LE, Preblud SR, Orenstein WA, et al. Patterns of Transmission in Measles Outbreaks in the United States, 1985-1986. N Engl J Med 1989 Jan 12; 320:75-81.

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