February is Prenatal Infection Prevention Month. If you're pregnant, planning on becoming pregnant, or know someone who is pregnant, it's important to know about common prenatal infections -- the signs/symptoms and how to prevent them. Prenatal infections are common and can cause both minor and significant problems for parent and baby. Read through the following summaries to learn more about identifying these common infections and what you can do. The following information can be found in more detail on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.
Tips for Preventing 4 Common Prenatal Infections
Cytomegalovirus, or CMV, is a common virus that can affect adults and children often without showing any symptoms. It is passed on through bodily fluids like saliva, urine, blood, breast milk, vaginal secretions, and semen. Pregnant people are not routinely tested for CMV and newborns are not routinely tested for CMV at birth unless symptoms are present. If CMV symptoms are present, a medical professional may recommend testing. If you suspect you have been exposed to CMV, whether previously or currently, you can request testing during pregnancy to better understand your baby's risk and to closely monitor your baby's growth in utero and after birth. You can also request a screening at birth for your baby. Approximately 1 in 200 babies are born with CMV, making it the most common congenital viral infection. To learn more, visit CDC or the The National CMV Foundation.
Group B strep
Group B strep, also called GBS or group B streptococcus, is a common bacterial infection in the vagina or rectum that is present in about 1 out of 4 adult women, including those who are pregnant. (GBS occurs in all people.) GBS in adults does not present as a typical infection; most who have it are healthy, don't know they have it, do not show any symptoms, and do not require treatment to get rid of it. Group B strep in newborns, however, can cause group B strep disease, which is a serious and risky illness that can be passed to a newborn during birth (vaginal and cesarean, if water has been broken), which is why group B strep during pregnancy is treated in labor. All pregnant people will be tested for GBS during pregnancy during their prenatal care. If they are found to be positive, most care providers will routinely administer IV antibiotics during labor to prevent passing the illness onto baby. If baby shows signs of GBS after birth, treatment with antibiotics will begin right away. To learn more, visit CDC or Group B Strep International.
Anyone -- pregnant or not -- can develop listeriosis. Since pregnancy suppresses the immune system, fighting listeriosis can be more difficult. Developing listeriosis during pregnancy is linked with an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, newborn infection, and stillbirth or newborn death. People contract listeriosis by eating contaminated foods. You can help prevent listeriosis by making sure you're eating food from safe sources. It's not always possible to avoid, but by not eating certain kinds of foods, you can reduce your risks. Learn more at the CDC and here on Giving Birth with Confidence.
The Zika virus can be spread from the Aedes mosquito to person and from person to person through sex. If you contract Zika during pregnancy, your baby is at risk for being born with microcephaly and other severe brain defects. You can reduce your risks of contracting Zika by being aware of outbreaks in your area or in areas where you plan to travel, and taking measures to avoid contact with mosquito bites in these areas. Learn more at the CDC.
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