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Infection During Pregnancy: Types and Prevention

Michael Becker

Infection during pregnancy can temper a woman’s excitement during this special time. However, women have a huge responsibility to protect their health during pregnancy. If not treated properly, a serious vaginal infection during pregnancy can cause health problems for the fetus. Women need to educate themselves about infection during pregnancy as well as arm themselves with information about health risks and prevention.

Common Types of Infection During Pregnancy

There are many infections that a person can contract, but the most common ones that pregnant women should be aware of include the following:

  • Food-borne infections – Listeria is a bacteria present in food that is not properly cooked and can cause listeriosis. Meat should be fully cooked, with no pink in the middle; deli meats and hot dogs should be served hot. Additionally, pregnant women should avoid unpasteurized milk and cheese because these may contain bacteria.
  • Insect-borne infections – Mosquito bites can transmit deadly infections such as West Nile Virus and malaria. Pregnant women can protect themselves by wearing long-sleeved clothing and insect repellent when outdoors.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) – Unprotected sex can lead to an STD that can be passed on to the baby. Genital warts, gonorrhea and chlamydia are common STDs. Having both partners tested before engaging in sexual intercourse is the best way to determine risk.
  • Cytomegalovirus – This infection is caused by the bacteria in the saliva and urine of children. Pregnant women who work at schools or daycares or who have young children of their own are especially at risk.
  • Toxoplasmosis – This disease is caused by the bacteria in dirty cat litter. Women should avoid changing the litter box while pregnant.
  • Group B strep – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 25 percent of women have this bacteria in their body but show no symptoms. Doctors can perform a swab test near the end of the pregnancy to determine if the woman has these bacteria and take proper precautions to prevent transmission to the baby during labor and delivery.

Health Risks for the Baby

Depending on the type of infection, an unborn baby can suffer mild to severe health problems. STDs can cause preterm labor and ectopic pregnancies. Some infections can cause damage to the heart and other organs in an unborn baby. Anemia and other blood problems can develop. In severe cases, miscarriage or fetal death can occur. A harmed mother’s recourse is often a Cleveland medical malpractice attorney.

Preventive Measures

Fortunately, there are many things pregnant women can do to minimize their risk of infection during pregnancy. These include:

  • Proper hygiene – Hands should be washed with soap and water often, especially after caring for children or pets, handling food and visiting with those who are sick.
  • Avoiding pet cleaning chores – Pregnant women should have another family member clean out the cat’s litter box and other pet homes (such as hamster and bird cages) to avoid the risk of infection.
  • Vaccinations – Pregnant women should stay current on vaccinations to prevent transmitting serious diseases to their unborn babies.
  • Avoiding international travel – Diseases such as malaria and polio still exist in some parts of the world. It is best to avoid visiting third-world countries while pregnant.

Medical malpractice attorneys can be hired when a woman suffers vaginal infection during pregnancy from any of the sources listed.

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