Things I learned en route to looking up other things: Royal edition

Oy! Measles!

Something I didn’t know:

Princess (later Queen) Elizabeth breast-fed Prince Charles for two months in 1948, but was forced to stop when she contracted measles. For safety’s sake the Prince was sent away with the royal nannies for an extended period of time.

Elizabeth recovered, of course, and Charles didn’t catch the measles. But re-lactation wasn’t a royal priority, and so that was the end of breastfeeding for Charles.

Elizabeth was 22 years old when she came down with measles–a rather advanced age to catch a disease that typically attacked young children. Her misfortune was likely due to a kind of hoity-toity herd immunity–years of private tutoring and family-only holidays had greatly limited Elizabeth’s access to other kids (and their germs) during early childhood.

The Princess’s measles and early weaning make for a cautionary tale: pregnant and early postpartum women are particularly vulnerable to a number of infectious diseases.  That’s why pregnant/postpartum women today are offered pertussis vaccine (and influenza vaccine, in season). It’s a good way to prevent serious infection–and maybe an early end to breast feeding–for both mother and baby.


Filed under Breastfeeding, Infectious diseases, Things I learned en route to looking up other things, Vaccines

2 responses to “Things I learned en route to looking up other things: Royal edition

  1. Hi Jen,
    The disruption in breastfeeding is a secondary thing with infections like influenza and pertussis. One recent example from my practice is a woman who got very ill with influenza, which led to pneumonia, which exhausted her reserves. She lost a lot of weight, got dehydrated, was in and out of the ER and hospital, and ultimately gave up on nursing long before she had planned to. Though infections like that don’t directly compromise nursing, they’re debilitating illnesses that grind a mother down.
    Thanks for writing – glad to hear you like the blog!


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