If you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy, there are steps that can be taken to protect your fetus or newborn from infections that cause serious health problems. There are four specific infections to be aware of as an expectant mother below:
Cytomegalovirus- in the United States, 1 out of every 200 babies are born with congenital CMV infection. CMV is a virus passed from the mother to the baby during pregnancy. It is usually passed from those who are infected via bodily fluids such as (semen, vaginal fluids, saliva, urine, and blood). Women can reduce the risk of passing CMV to children by minimizing the contact with urine and saliva from babies and young children and by practicing hand hygiene.
Group B strep- Group B Strep is a bacteria that can cause babies to become very sick or even die when passed from the mothers. According to the CDC, about 1 in 4 women in the United States carry the bacteria that causes the group B strep disease. You can prevent passing the disease to your baby during pregnancy by being tested and treated with an antibiotic if positive. Testing is important between 35-37 weeks of pregnancy and if your water breaks or you go into labor prior to being tested, advise your midwife or doctor.
Listeriosis- a rare but serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria called listeria. Listeria usually impacts individuals with weakened immune systems, elderly, newborns, and pregnant women. Pregnant women are 10 times more likely to acquire the disease and about 1 in 6 cases of listeriosis have been linked to pregnancy according to the CDC. Pregnant women usually experience flu-like symtoms such as fever, fatigue, muscle aches, and infections can often lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, and life threatening infections for the newborn. Pregnant Hispanic women are 24 times likely to acquire the infection according to research. Prevention for listeriosis can be maintained by avoiding the following:
Avoid eating cheese made from raw (unpasteurized) milk.
Avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk and products made from it, such as cheese, ice cream, and yogurt.
Do not eat raw or lightly cooked sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts).
Eat cut melon right away or refrigerate it at 40° F or colder and for no more than 7 days. Throw away cut melons left at room temperature for more than 4 hours.
Avoid eating hot dogs, lunch meats, cold cuts, other deli meats (such as bologna), or fermented or dry sausages unless they are heated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot just before serving.
Do not eat refrigerated pâté or meat spreads from a deli or meat counter or from the refrigerated section of a store.
Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood unless it is in a cooked dish, such as a casserole, or unless it is canned or shelf-stable.
Zika virus- infection can be passed from the mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. Zika is primarily spread through the bite of an infected Aedes species and via sex to their partners by someone infected with Zika. During pregnancy it can cause birth defects such as microcephaly, eye defects, impaired growth, hearing loss, miscarriage, and stillbirth. Prevention includes the following
Avoid traveling to areas where Zika virus is a risk.
If traveling to one of the areas is necessary, speak to a physician concerning mosquito bite prevention.
Avoid having unprotected sexual encounters, avoid sharing sexual toys, vaginal, anal, and oral sex without proper protection.
Prevntion, C. f. (2018, June 18). Center for Disease Control & Prevntion. Retrieved from National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases: https://www.cdc.gov/features/prenatalinfections/index.html