Infections during Pregnancy

November 12, 2012

Infections during Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a blissful and memorable time for most women. However, pregnancy may lower your immunity, and increase your susceptibility to diseases, which may be dangerous to you as well as to your baby.

Common Cold and Flu

Respiratory tract infections during pregnancy are not dangerous but can cause extreme discomfort to you. Steam inhalation, lots of fluids and rest may give you some relief. Decongestants and anti-pyretic medications such as paracetamol can be used at normal doses without any side effects. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat infections, especially if you get green phlegm during cough as this may be an indication of bacterial infection.

Vaginal Thrush

Yeast, or candida, is part of the normal vaginal flora of about 16 percent of non-pregnant women and 32 percent of pregnant women. The mere colonization of candida does not warrant any treatment. However, symptoms such as itching, soreness, and thick, white discharge may require treatment with vaginal suppositories such as clotrimoxazole and antifungal tablets and capsules such as flucanozole. The condition is common in diabetic women, during third trimester of pregnancy or in summer months.

Group B Streptococcal Infections

About 15 to 20 percent of women also carry a bacterium known as group B streptococcus in their vagina without any apparent symptoms. However, in less than 1 percent of the cases these bacteria may enter the bloodstream of the baby during delivery to cause serious blood or brain infections. Most mothers in the United States are screened during the third trimester for the presence of the bacteria in the vagina and may be prescribed antibiotics to overcome the infection before the delivery. Untreated cases may also lead to preterm labor and early rupture of the membranes.

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes infections are caused by Herpes simplex virus, and affect almost 10 percent of the population in the United Kingdom. The condition may also be completely asymptomatic, or it can lead to flu-like symptoms followed by painful, swollen glands of the groin. Women, who get their first herpes infection after 28 weeks, do not have any antibodies against the virus, and may pass the infection to baby at the time of delivery. Your doctor may recommend a C-section to avoid the complications.

Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii that is found in raw meat and in cat that that eat raw meat. Toxoplasmosis infections during pregnancy can be dangerous to the fetus. Although relatively rare, these infections can lead to miscarriage, stillbirths, growth problems, brain damage, blindness or deafness in the newborn. Women who acquire the infection in the third trimester have a 70 percent chance of passing it to the fetus when compared to the 15 percent chance that women who were infected in the first trimester have.

Chicken Pox

Almost 80 percent of women have antibodies against the Varicella zoster virus that causes chicken pox. Hence, most babies are not at risk of an infection even if the mother gets the infection during pregnancy. There is a 2 percent chance of fetal infection if the mother gets chicken pox between 14 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Women who acquire chicken pox a week before the delivery put their baby at risk of an overwhelming infection after birth. Administration of Varicella zoster-immunoglobulin treatment can reduce the risk of chicken pox, even if given 10 days after the initial exposure.

Urinary Tract Infections

Slow passage of urine from the kidneys to the bladder during pregnancy increases the risk of urinary tract infection during pregnancy. The condition is characterized by frequent urination and bladder pain. It may lead to serious kidney or systemic infections. Prompt treatment with antibiotics can prevent the complications associated with UTIs.

Sexually Transmitted Disease

Sexually transmitted diseases caused by bacteria such as Chlamydia and Neisseria gonorrhea can pass on to the baby and cause serious eye and chest infection. However, both diseases are treatable during pregnancy. HIV infections, on the other hand, cannot be treated and may cause serious immunodeficiency in the baby.

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