Prenatal infections could harm expecting mothers and their unborn children. To help prevent prenatal infections, it is best to educate yourself early on and take a few preventative measures.
Prenatal Infections Overview
Any type of illness developing during pregnancy has the potential to pose serious harm to both the expecting mother and her baby. That said, certain kinds of infections are notorious for precipitating serious health issues and should be avoided at all costs.
These ailments include:
- Group B Streptococcus – This pathogen, sometimes abbreviated as GBS, is a bacteria present in almost everyone’s body. When the microbe is abundant inside a woman’s vaginal region, there is a chance her newborn could become infected during delivery. Infant GBS is a potentially life-threatening ailment that can produce symptoms such as elevated body temperature, cyanosis, lung infiltration, breathing difficulties and sepsis, which is a full-blown blood infection.
- Listeriosis – This illness is precipitated by listeria, a bacterial contaminant found in water, soil and in the bodies of animals such as livestock. The prevalence of this pathogen in the environment means it can be contracted through the consumption of contaminated foods. In newborns, listeriosis can elicit severe, potentially life-threatening digestive problems. Expecting women infected with listeria stand at an increased risk of serious issues like stillbirths, premature birth and miscarriages.
- Zika Virus – This microorganism is transmitted through the bites of mosquitos circulating in tropical and equatorial nations. Moreover, the pathogen can be sexually transmitted, passing immediately from mother to unborn baby. When the illness elicits physical manifestations, problems like skin rashes, fever and joint discomfort typically occur. Unfortunately, the disease can produce far more dangerous issues for developing fetuses including brain damage and growth deformities. In the most severe cases, miscarriages and stillbirths may result.
- Cytomegalovirus – Also known by the abbreviation CMV, this microbe is transmitted from person to person through bodily fluids like urine, saliva, blood, semen and vaginal secretions. The virus is capable of spreading from mother to fetus. In most cases, this herpes-like illness remains dormant. However, should it spread to an unborn child, the individual stands at an increased risk of developing developmental disabilities, sight or hearing problems and cerebral palsy.
- E. coli – Escherichia coli, typically referred to as E. coli, is a bacteria that is present naturally inside the body, especially inside a woman’s vaginal region. The pathogen can also enter the body through the consumption of food products contaminated with E. coli. When transmitted to newborns through the vagina, this bacteria can precipitate sudden infant death syndrome, also called SIDS, low birth weight, stillbirths and miscarriages. That said, should the mother contract the organism through food consumption, she might experience symptoms like severe diarrhea, dehydration and unusual bleeding.
Fortunately, there are several steps expecting women can take that might reduce their risk of developing these potentially serious medical conditions.
Such actions include:
- Consume a Healthy Diet – Pregnant individuals should eat foods rich in vitamins and nutrients, especially substances including but not limited to folic acid, iron and vitamins A, B complex, C, D and E. Additionally, processed and canned foods containing numerous chemicals, preservatives, salt and fat should be avoided or strictly limited.
- Avoid Potentially Detrimental Vices – Expecting women should significantly limit caffeine and avoid alcohol intake, and eliminate cigarette smoking completely.
- Obtain Frequent Checkups – Pregnant women should receive frequent evaluations from a healthcare provider to measure the well-being of themselves and their unborn children.
- Avoid Traveling to Certain World Regions – It is important to reiterate that Zika-transmitting mosquitos are prevalent in certain regions of the world. Expecting women should avoid traveling to such locations or exercise extreme precautions should such sojourns be absolutely necessary.
- Do Not Consume Contaminated Foods – Sometimes, this is not in an expecting woman’s control. That said, medical professionals recommend that pregnant individuals should avoid oft-contaminated products like deli meats, meat spreads, raw fish unpasteurized dairy items and salad bars. Furthermore, all produce items should be thoroughly rinsed prior to consumption.
- Wash Hands Frequently – There are fewer more direct methods of avoiding microbial contamination than frequent hand washing with soap and warm water.
Related Content: The Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping
In the past, the common practice was to pass Dad the surgical scissors and have him perform a quick snip just before the newborn babe was whisked away to be cleaned, measured and dosed with vitamin K. Any delay in cord cutting was viewed as unnecessary in promoting general health for the baby or mother. However, recent research suggests that a delay of even three minutes can have a significant positive impact on infants.