Quick Guide to What You Need to Know
Infections in the prenatal period, while fortunately rare, can have adverse consequences to either the mother or the baby. A few simple preventative practices such as good hand washing, safe food handling, screening during prenatal care, and vaccination can reduce the risk of these infections. Here we will highlight some of the more commonly known prenatal infections and strategies used to reduce these infections.
Probably one of the most recently publicized infectious diseases that can adversely affect pregnancy is Listeriosis. Fortunately, this is a very rare infection, affecting only 200 of the more than 4 million pregnancies in the US annually. Listeria is a bacteria found in contaminated food that can cause a flu-like illness with fever, muscle aches, and diarrhea. Infection usually occurs in high-risk populations such as those with a weakened immune system, older adults, newborns, or pregnant women. In pregnancy, maternal infection can result in preterm labor or miscarriage. If suspected, an infection can be treated with antibiotics. Prevention of infection is key to reducing the risk in pregnancy and includes: • Avoiding eating hot dogs or deli meats unless heated to steaming and
voiding contamination of other foods with the juices of these foods • Wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly prior to eating • Avoid consuming non-pasteurized diary products, pate,
or soft cheeses (brie, queso fresco, queso blanco) More information on Listeria and pregnancy can be found at www.cdc.gov/listeria.
Cytomegalovirus, although less well known, is the most common congenital infection. CMV is passed from person to person contact of infected saliva, urine, or bodily fluids. Infection in pregnancy usually has no symptoms, but can be associated with a mild flu-like illness. In one third of maternal infections, the virus then can spread to the fetus across the placenta, and even fewer cause injury to the baby. Fortunately, CMV infection occurs in only 1-2 % of all newborns in the US. In most cases of fetal infection (90%) there are no symptoms