Approximately 20 percent of people with measles symptoms will develop one or more complications. These measles complications are more common in children under five years of age and adults over 20 years of age. Complications can include:
- Respiratory conditions (croup, bronchitis, or bronchiolitis)
- Eye conditions (corneal ulceration, keratitis, or blindness)
- Ear infections (otitis media)
- Abdominal (stomach) pain
Measles causes ear infections in nearly one out of every ten children who gets it. As many as 1 out of 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, and about 1 child in every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis -- an inflammation of the brain that can lead to convulsions and leave your child deaf or mentally retarded.
For every 1,000 children who get measles, 1 or 2 will die from it. Measles can also cause a pregnant woman to have a miscarriage, give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth weight baby.
In developing countries, where malnutrition and vitamin A deficiency are common, measles has been known to kill as many as one out of four people. It is the leading cause of blindness among African children. Worldwide, measles kills almost one million children each year.