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Raw deal for the unborn

It might be a good idea to avoid these during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Dr Gita Mathai   |   Published 01.12.21, 12:29 AM

I am four months pregnant. Can I eat sushi?

Raw, undercooked fish can be contaminated with bacteria and parasites. Tuna can contain mercury. Both can cause abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. It might be a good idea to avoid these during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Covid-19 vaccine

I am pregnant. Can I take the Covid-19 vaccine?

The Covid-19 vaccine is safe in pregnancy. It is better to take it — if you acquire the disease, treatment (even with the new Covid-19 pill) will be expensive, and the disease itself can prove to be dangerous.

Raw eggs and milk

My trainer has asked me to drink milk with four raw eggs beaten into it in the morning. Is it safe?

Raw eggs can be contaminated with the salmonella bacteria. This can cause vomiting, fever and diarrhoea, and can last for weeks and be incapacitating if not treated with appropriate antibiotics in the correct dosage.

Fingernail pus

I developed a small, painful area at the corner of my fingernail. It is yellow in colour, as if there is some pus.

It seems to be paronychia, an infection that occurs due to badly cut nails, ingrown nails or nail-biting. It can worsen with exposure to water, soap, detergents or chemicals.

Soak your finger in warm saline water for 10 minutes a day. If it does not improve, see a physician. Antibiotics, and incision and drainage may be needed. To prevent further attacks, use gloves while cleaning vessels or washing clothes. 

Thigh nodule

I have developed pain on the outer side of my thigh. When I ran my hand along that area, I could feel a hard, painful nodule.

This is probably a fibrous nodule. It is quite common, especially if one doesn’t stretch properly after exercise. Try to “break” the nodule by pressing it hard and rubbing it in the clockwise direction. Then wrap an ice cube in a plastic bag and rub it there. This works for nodules in other muscles too. You may take the help of a physiotherapist.

Undiagnosed malaria

I was diagnosed with malaria after three months of fever. Why did it take so long?

Malaria can resemble ordinary flu or other viral and bacterial infections. The typical alternate day high fever with shivering and chills may not occur. So, it may not have been suspected. The specific tests may not have been done. If a blood smear is examined at the height of the fever, it may show malarial parasites. Available “card tests” may give positive results even if there is no fever at that time. 

Birth calculation

I want to calculate when my baby will be born. 

You can roughly calculate by adding seven days to the date of the first day of your last menstruation and another nine months. This works well for those who have regular cycles. An ultrasound scan usually gives the correct date. 

Improved eyesight

I want to improve my eyesight, I don’t want to wear glasses.

Like the rest of your body, eyesight can and will improve with exercise. There are several in yoga. As with any natural cure, the exercises have to be done daily, regularly for years. It is not a miracle cure — you cannot start today and improve tomorrow.

The writer is a paediatrician with a family practice at Vellore and the author of Staying Healthy in Modern India. If you have any questions on health issues please write to

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