Infectious Diseases and Pregnancy
It may be impossible to avoid being around sick people while you are pregnant. This is true if there are also young children in the household. You will likely have some mild illness during your pregnancy. Like all adults and children, pregnant women are at risk for developing viral and bacterial infections.
If you have Cold or the flu, how will it affect your baby?
A bad cold or the flu does not usually harm your baby. But you may feel miserable. It is important to make sure you eat nutritious food and get plenty of rest and exercise.
Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold. This can be hard to do if family members or co-workers are ill.
Make sure you wash your hands often. Hand washing is an essential and very effective way to prevent the spread of infection.
Hands should be wet with water and plain or antimicrobial soap and rubbed together for 15 to 30 seconds. Pay special attention to the fingernails, between the fingers, and the wrists. Rinse the hands thoroughly and dry with a single use towel.
Cold germs are easily passed between people, especially if you touch your eyes, nose or mouth after contact with the sick person.
Before using medicine, you should first treat the symptoms with lots of rest and plenty of fluids. Use a humidifier in your room at night to help nasal congestion. Sleep with your head propped up on several pillows.
If your throat is sore, try sucking on ice chips, lozenges, drinking liquids or gargling with warm salt water.
If you decide to take medicine, speak to your doctor before using it to ensure tht the medicine will not harm you or your baby.
Call You Doctor If:
- You are coughing up greenish or yellow mucus. .
- Your fever reaches 39°C (or 102°F). .
- You are having difficulty breathing.
- Your symptoms are bad enough to keep you from eating or sleeping. .
- The symptoms last for more than a few days with no signs of improvement.
What illnesses can affect your unborn baby?
There are 4 illnesses that can affect your unborn baby.
- Chicken Pox
- Rubella (also German measles)
What is Rubella?
Rubella, also called German measles, is an infection caused by a virus. Rubella is an infectious, but mild viral disease characterized by an eruptive rash which starts on the face and spreads along the rest of the body. In most cases, rubella is relatively harmless, with all symptoms disappearing after a week or so, leaving the patient with a life long immunity. However, in pregnant women, rubella can cause severe birth defects or miscarriage if contracted in the first trimester.
Rubella is no longer very common because an effective vaccine prevents most cases. This vaccine is given to children twice during childhood.
Why is Rubella dangerous for pregnant women?
Rubella is very serious if a woman gets it in the first 3 months of pregnancy. The unborn baby may die or have severe birth defects. The most common birth defects are
- Heart defects
- Mental retardation
What can you do?
Contact your doctor if you do not know if you have had rubella or the rubella vaccine. Your doctor will give a blood test to find out if you are immune. If you are not immune and not pregnant, the doctor will vaccinate you.
You should not get pregnant for 3 months after vaccination. This will allow enough time for immunity to develop.
*Don't wait until you are pregnant. You can NOT have the MMR shot when you are pregnant.
What is Chicken pox?
Symptoms of Chicken Pox
- Infection with Chickenpox may begin with a mild fever, followed in a day or two by a rash, which may be very itchy.
- The rash starts with red spots that soon turn into fluid-filled blisters. In a few days, crusts form over the blisters.
- The chickenpox rash usually appears 14-21 days after exposure to the virus.
Chicken pox is an infection caused by a virus. Most adult women already have protective antibodies to chicken pox in their blood from a previous childhood infection. These antibodies mean they will never catch the disease. Chicken pox early in pregnancy can damage your unborn baby and make you very sick.
Some women get antibodies if they once had chicken pox. Some women will have antibodies to chicken pox without knowing they had it.
What is Toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is primarily a danger if you own a cat. This illness is caused by a parasitic infection common in cats common in cats that catch and eat wild mice. Anyone who comes in contact with the bowel movements of an infected cat could become infected.
If this infection is passed on to your baby it may cause birth defects such as blindness, deafness and mental retardation, although they are rare.
Causes of toxoplasmosis
- Undercooked or raw meat
- Unpasteurized goats’ milk
- soil or cat litter contaminated with infected cat faeces
- cat faeces
What can be done to prevent Toxoplasmosis?
- Make sure that all meat is completely cooked. This is very important
- Feed your cat only commercial cat food. This type of food is processed in a way that destroys the organisms.
- Ask someone who is not pregnant to clean the litter box.
Symptoms of toxoplasmosis
- Swollen lymph nodes (glands that are part of your immune system), particularly in your throat or armpits
- Mild flu-like symptoms, for example, aching muscles and a high temperature
What is HIV?
(Human Immunodeficiency Virus)?
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). If you are pregnant and have HIV you can pass this infection on to your baby. The virus can be transferred from the mother to baby during pregnancy, during birth or through breast milk.
Some children infected from their mothers will show signs of infection in their first 2 years. However, some children have no symptoms for several years.
The major source of transmitting this virus to babies is through pregnant women who have no symptoms. It is essential that all pregnant women receive HIV counseling from their doctor and be tested for HIV.
- Fever and/or night sweats
- Easy bruising
- Bouts of extreme exhaustion
- Unexplained body rashes
- Appearance of purplish lesions on the skin or inside mouth
- Sudden unexplained weight loss
Preventing getting sick
- Avoid people who have a cold or the flu. Avoid touching your mouth or eyes with your hands.
- Wash your hands often. Always wash them after handling raw meats and changing diapers
- Make sure the food you eat has been cooked properly in order to avoid food-borne illness.
Article By:- eHealthhut Webmaster