Study: Dengue Fever Impacts Infant Health for 3 Years

Study: Dengue Fever Impacts Infant Health for 3 Years

April 24, 2024 : A recent study published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics has shed light on the potential long-term consequences of dengue fever infections during pregnancy. Researchers from the University of Birmingham and the University of Surrey investigated the impact of dengue on expectant mothers and the health of their newborns.

The study utilized a large dataset from Minas Gerais, Brazil, focusing on women who contracted dengue fever during pregnancy. The findings revealed a concerning association between maternal dengue infection and lower birth weights in infants. Newborns born to mothers with dengue were more likely to be classified as having very low birth weight (VLBW) or extremely low birth weight (ELBW), with a respective increase of 67% and 133% compared to those born to healthy mothers.

Furthermore, the study highlighted a link between prenatal dengue exposure and increased hospitalization rates in children up to three years old. Overall, children born to mothers with dengue exhibited a 27% higher risk of hospitalization compared to the control group. This risk was particularly pronounced during the second year of life, with a staggering 76% increase in hospitalization rates observed.

Dr. Martin Foureaux Koppensteiner, co-author of the study and Associate Professor in Economics at the University of Surrey, emphasized the far-reaching effects of these findings. He noted that the negative health outcomes extend beyond individual mothers and children, potentially burdening healthcare systems and communities where dengue fever is prevalent.

The study’s findings underscore the importance of preventative measures to mitigate the spread of dengue fever, particularly among pregnant women. Additionally, healthcare providers should be aware of the potential long-term health risks associated with prenatal dengue exposure and prioritize close monitoring of infants born to mothers who contracted the virus during pregnancy.