When you’re pregnant, you have to be more conscious than the rest of us. Why? During pregnancy, you have a weakened immune system, so contracting a viral or bacterial infections are able to get to you easier. Here are a few to be aware of!
Toxoplasmosis: Look what the cat dragged in! Toxoplasmosis is an infection is caused by a parasite. Though it can come from undercooked meat and contaminated water, what’s stranger is it can also be contracted through your household cat. The parasite can be apparent in your cats, how do we say this nicely… #2. This doesn’t mean you need to get rid of your critter, but it does mean you should steer clear of the litter if possible!
So, what do the symptoms look like? Symptoms can be unapparent due to our immune systems keeping it at bay. However, those with compromised immune systems have more to worry about. Symptoms vary and can look like a plethora of other illnesses, but doctors can confirm contraction via blood sample. A small percentage of newborns can have serious eye or brain damage at birth, while others may have no symptoms at all or may develop symptoms later on.
If you aren’t pregnant and have a healthy immune system, treatment is not usually needed. If you are planning to become pregnant, your doctor can also test you to see if you’ve been infected before. If you have, your doctor may prescribe medicine to treat it preventatively. If your test comes back negative, you just need to take precautions to avoid the infection.
CMV Virus: Also known as cytomegalovirus, CMV is an offset of herpes. Infection during pregnancy can be dangerous due to its ability to cause problems for unborn babies. Potential issues include hearing loss, visual impairment, learning difficulties and epilepsy. It can be more dangerous to the baby if the mother has not been infected before (you can find out if you’ve had it before by taking a blood test.) Tips for avoiding the infection include washing your hands regularly, not kissing young children on the face, and not sharing things such as cutlery and cups with young children either
Group B Streptococcus: Strep B is a bacterial infection found in a pregnant woman’s vagina or rectum. Oddly enough, it’s found in 25% of healthy women and is not a sexually transmitted disease (the bacteria is colonized in those that test positive.) About 1 in 2,000 babies in the US are affected by Strep B. Though it is rare, and not every woman who is positive will pass it to her baby, the side effects can be serious. Signs of early-onset include sepsis, pneumonia, meningitis, breathing problems, gastrointestinal problems, among others.
This condition is easily to spot and be prepared for as testing is performed for all pregnant women during the 35-37th week of pregnancy. If there are risks, a doctor may suggest using antibiotics during delivery to prevent the baby from contacting it.
Zika: This condition would be the Regina George if illnesses were the movie Mean Girls. Everyone knows what this virus is, so we’ll make this one quick! Zika is a virus spread through a mosquito bite that can cause serious birth defects. These defects include microcephaly and other brain defects. There is no current vaccine or treatment for Zika, so it’s best to not travel to areas with Zika outbreak while pregnant. The full extent of the Zika virus is still being researched, so it’s best to be cautious and discuss with your health care provider about possible risks of traveling while pregnant!
Listeria: Though you should be careful about food health whether you’re pregnant or not, it’s UBER important when you’re pregnant! Listeria is a bacteria found in water and soil, thus vegetables and animals can be carriers. In your fridge it may be found in uncooked meats and vegetables, unpasteurized milk, and processed foods. In turn, pasteurization and cooking kills the bacteria.
Although contraction is relatively rare, pregnant women are more susceptible than non-pregnant adults. Symptom including headaches, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting may show up 2-30 days after exposure according to the American Pregnancy Organization. Potential risks include miscarriage, premature delivery, infection and death to newborn. Infection is most common during the third trimester because the immune system is at its lowest strength. A quick blood test can confirm infection. Antibiotic treatment may be given to help prevent infection to the baby, and like Strep B not all mothers who are infected will pass it to their baby.