February is Prenatal Infection Prevention Month. It’s recognized as a time to promote health observance for prevention of infection during pregnancy. Organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) share helpful information on their websites pertaining to common infections mothers might pass unknowingly to their unborn children.
While in the United States, severe complications to an unborn baby from maternal infections are rare, it never hurts to be aware of risks involved when it comes to prenatal infections. Below are some common infections that can be passed from mother to unborn child:
Group B Strep: Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a common bacterium found in the intestines and is present in about 1 to 4 pregnant women. Although harmless to the mother, it can be detrimental to the health of an unborn baby, causing complications like premature birth, seizures, brain damage, cerebral palsy, meningitis, sepsis, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and more. All pregnant women in the U.S. are tested for GBS during the course of their pregnancy.
Chorioamnionitis: An infection characterized by an ascending infection and/or inflammation of the fetal membranes. Complications and birth injuries associated with chorioamnionitis include premature rupture of membranes (PROM), preterm birth, sepsis, meningitis, and villitis.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): While very common and mostly harmless in some woman, untreated UTIs can cause dangerous and permanent birth injuries including intrauterine infection, premature birth, infant brain damage, and neonatal infection.
The best preventative measures from contracting an infection that can be transmitted to an unborn child is to see a doctor regularly during your pregnancy and practice good hand-washing and hygiene routines.
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