The United States recently reported its highest incidence of measles cases since 1996. Blame it on a large outbreak in Europe; most U.S. cases can be traced to people visiting from Europe or returning from abroad. Medical experts are warning parents to get their children (and themselves) vaccinated against the highly contagious disease. “Measles is not a trivial ‘let him get it and get over it’ disease,” says Catherine Lamprecht M.D., division chief of pediatric infectious disease at Nemours Children's Clinic in Orlando, Florida. “The child is miserable and often seen in the emergency room or even hospitalized.” Measles is characterized by rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. It can also cause diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia, brain injury, seizures and death. Here's more of what you need to know about the measles and your baby:
0 to 6 months Thanks to mom's blood, infants are protected from measles for about the first 6 months of life.
7 to 12 months These babies are vulnerable to measles because their mom-given immunity has worn off, but they're too young to be immunized. During this time, try to surround your baby only with people who have been immunized.
12 to 15 months Your baby should receive his MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) immunization. Dr. Lamprecht reminds parents that they're not only protecting their own child by getting her vaccinated, they're also protecting others who cannot be immunized because of certain medical conditions.