In a world that is increasingly aware of the danger of infections, it’s especially important for new moms, or moms-to-be, to maintain good habits as part of their maternal healthcare. Prenatal infections can cause health problems for mom and the baby, including development delays, organ damage and preterm birth.
February is Prenatal Infection Prevention Month – a time to bring attention to the infections that can be transmitted from a mother to her baby. Here are a few prenatal infections to be aware of and tips on what you can do to prevent them.
Zika Virus: Probably the most well-known prenatal infection is the Zika virus. Zika is most commonly spread by mosquitos, but a mother can pass Zika to her baby during pregnancy. For most people who contract Zika, the symptoms are mild. However, risks are higher for pregnant women. Zika can cause a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly. If you are pregnant, or planning to be, avoid traveling to areas with Zika, use insect repellant and wear a condom, as Zika can also be sexually transmitted.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV): This is the most common virus. According to the CDC, more than half of adults in the U.S. will have had a CMV infection before the age of 40. Unfortunately, most people with CMV don’t get symptoms and therefore don’t even know they have it, but the virus can be very harmful to babies with weak immune systems. CMV is transmitted via body fluids, so constant hand washing helps, as well as not sharing food and utensils with others.
Listeriosis: This virus is caused by ingesting the bacteria listeria in contaminated foods. This infection can lead to preterm birth, stillbirth, and miscarriage. Pregnant women should avoid unpasteurized milk and foods like soft cheeses, as well as raw seafood.
Additional tips to avoid infection include not touching or changing kitty litter and avoiding sick friends and family. Talk to your doctor about additional necessary vaccines. Getting the right vaccines before you even become pregnant can help keep you and your baby healthy.
If you have any questions or want to schedule an appointment, please call our office at 307-634-5216.