Chikungunya virus can infect a woman during pregnancy. She would have symptoms similar to those of any woman. Most infections during pregnancy do not result in the foetus getting infected with the virus. It is only during delivery that chances of the foetus or child being infected with the virus increase. In rare cases, abortions caused by chikungunya at the time of the third trimester have been reported. Currently, there have been no reports that suggest any transmission of chikungunya virus through breast milk after being infected with chikunguniya during pregnancy.
A research was carried out in Réunion Island, France to evaluate the effect on the foetus and newborn babies of pregnant women infected with chikungunya. There was an outbreak of chikungunya in 2005-06 on the island. The first reported case of mother-to-child transfer of the chikungunya virus was during this outbreak. The study was carried out in 2006. There were around 1,400 pregnant women, out of which 628 were uninfected and 658 were infected with chikungunya virus during pregnancy. Out of the 1400 odd women, 27 women were infected before conceiving, and the infection date of 87 women was unknown.
Out of the 658 women infected with chikungunya virus during pregnancy, 15 % of them were infected during first trimester, 59 % during second and 26 % during the third. The outcomes of pregnancy, i.e. impact on the newborn, were compared on the basis of caesarean deliveries, preterm births, obstetric haemorrhaging, stillbirths after 22 weeks, congenital malformations, weight at the time of birth and newborn admissions. The infected ones were compared with the 655 not infected during pregnancy. No differences in the pregnancy outcomes were observed. The only noticeable difference was that the infected pregnant mothers had to be hospitalised earlier than the uninfected ones.
The findings of this research clearly suggest that there is very little risk of women infected with chikunguniya during pregnancy passing it to their foetus.
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