Preparing for a baby, among other things, is exciting. You can’t wait to meet your little one for the first time, to care for them as they grow. You hope with all your heart that they will be both healthy and happy.
Concern for your child’s health is a not unfounded. There are actually several dangers that threaten, not only your child’s wellbeing but also yours. These dangers come in the form of dangerous prenatal infections.
Common Prenatal Infections
To better protect yourself and your little one, you need to be informed about each of these infections and how to minimize the threat they pose.
Group B Strep (GBS) Infection
First up is the leading cause of infection within the first week of life—GBS. This particular infection is to blame for most cases of meningitis or inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, as well as sepsis that results when harmful bacteria infect the bloodstream.
It’s estimated that one in four pregnant women are carriers of this bacteria. That being the case, the chances of it being passed on to newborns are about 1 in 200. By having antibiotics administered during labor, that risk is decreased to 1 in 4,000.
Thus, one key to preventing GBS disease in newborns is antibiotics. This is especially important if you’ve had a child with GBS before. Even if not, you should be tested for this bacteria during your pregnancy. Doing so will allow you and your doctor to prepare accordingly to protect the baby.
Next up is Zika virus. If a mother is infected, Zika virus increases the risk of birth defects twentyfold. What birth defects? Microcephaly and fetal brain defects are the most common.
Microcephaly is when a baby’s head is smaller compared to others of the same age and sex. Additionally, the brain may also be smaller and not fully developed. In severe cases, the skull may even be partially collapsed.
This is one of the identifying marks of a condition called Congenital Zika Syndrome. Other features include:
- Restricted movement due to excess muscle tone
- Joints with limited range of motion
- Damage to the eye, sometimes caused by underdevelopment of the part of the brain responsible for vision
- Decreased brain tissue with a specific pattern of damage
While there is no medication at this time to treat this virus, there are still a few things you can do to prevent problems. One, protect yourself from mosquitoes with long clothing and repellent. Also, avoid areas where mosquitoes congregate such as stagnant bodies of water.
Two, during your pregnancy, talk to your doctor about a blood or urine test to determine if you might be infected. If it’s confirmed that you are, your doctor can help you to act accordingly.
A listeria infection (listeriosis) can be passed on through an infected birth canal or ruptured amniotic membranes. Like Group B Strep, it is often the cause of newborn meningitis and sepsis, both of which are very dangerous. It can also result in early delivery and, worst case scenario, miscarriage or stillbirth.
How can you prevent such undesirable outcomes? Early diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics are critical. Also, during pregnancy, you can limit your intake of foods that have the potential for listeria contamination. These include raw vegetables from contaminated soil, raw meats, and unpasteurized milk and its products.
Protect Your Baby At All Cost
Surely, you want nothing but the best for your child. Yes, there are many potential dangers that are out of your control awaiting them once they make it out into the world. But you can do much in the way of prenatal infection control. Along with your doctor, you can give your baby the best chance at health and happiness!