A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to get an infection in pregnancy with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your chances of getting an infection during pregnancy. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your healthcare provider what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors for infection in pregnancy vary depending on the type of infection. General risk factors for infection during pregnancy include:

Poor Hygiene

Viruses and bacteria that cause infections are passed through person-to-person contact. You are at higher risk of spreading and getting infections caused by bacteria and viruses if you:

  • Do not wash your hands.
  • Touch your nose, mouth, and eyes with contaminated fingers.

Sexual Contact

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia , gonorrhea , and HIV are passed from person to person during sexual contact. Your risk for STDs is higher if you have ever had:

  • Many sex partners
  • Sex with someone who has had many partners
  • Sex without using condoms

Contaminated Foods

The germs that cause infections such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis have been found in:

  • Uncooked meats
  • Undercooked meat (such as rare beef) from infected animals
  • Uncooked vegetables
  • Unpasteurized milk
  • Foods made from unpasteurized milk (eg, certain cheeses)
  • Processed foods

Your risk for these infections is higher if you eat these kinds of foods.

Lifestyle Factors

  • Having close contact with someone who has an infection
  • Using household items that were used by an infected person and not properly cleaned
  • Handling cat litter or soil where there is cat feces
  • Having a job that involves contact with bodily fluids, such as:
    • Childcare worker
    • First aid or emergency worker
    • Funeral director
    • Healthcare workers
    • Dentist
    • Dental assistant
    • Firefighter
    • Police personnel