Infection in Pregnancy
Main | ]]>Risk Factors]]> | ]]>Symptoms]]> | ]]>Diagnosis]]> | ]]>Treatment]]> | ]]>Medications]]> | ]]>Other treatments]]> | ]]>Screening]]> | ]]>Reducing Your Risk]]> | ]]>Talking to Your Doctor]]> | ]]>Resource Guide]]>
Viruses, bacteria, and other germs cause infections. You may be more likely to get an infection during pregnancy because your immune system is naturally suppressed. Many infections do not cause problems, but some can cause problems for you, your developing baby, or both. If you think you have an infection during pregnancy, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Significant infections during pregnancy include:
]]>Chickenpox (Varicella)]]> —This is caused by a virus, which commonly affects children. Between 85% and 95% of pregnant women are immune to chickenpox. If you are immune to chickenpox, it is unlikely that you will get it again. About one woman in 2,000 will develop chickenpox during pregnancy. If you get chickenpox in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, there is a very small chance (less than 1%) that your baby will be born with serious birth defects. If you get chickenpox around the time of delivery, your baby may be born with chickenpox infection. If this infection is treated, most babies have only a mild illness. Without treatment, up to 30% of infants die.
]]>Chorioamnionitis]]> —This is a rare but serious bacterial infection of the membranes surrounding the amniotic fluid and the baby. It usually starts because bacteria in your vagina or rectum move into your uterus where your developing baby is located. It is more likely to occur after the bag of water has broken. Chorioamnionitis happens in about 2% of births in the United States. In most cases, having this infection means your baby has to be delivered as soon as possible.
]]>Cytomegalovirus (CMV)]]> —This is a common viral infection that usually causes no symptoms. By age 30, about half of all adults in the United States have been infected with CMV. About 1% to 3% of pregnant women become infected for the first time with CMV. When a pregnant woman becomes infected, she can pass the virus on to her developing baby. In a small number of cases, this leads to serious illness in the newborn, lasting disabilities, and even death.
]]>Group B Streptococcus (GBS)]]> —This is a type of bacteria. Many people carry GBS, but do not become ill. One of every four or five pregnant women carries GBS in the rectum or vagina. A developing baby may come in contact with this bacteria before or during birth if the mother carries GBS, which can cause life-threatening infections in newborns. In pregnant women, GBS can cause bladder infections, infections of the uterus, and stillbirth.
Listeriosis —This is a rare infection caused by bacteria found in some contaminated foods. About 2,500 people get it each year. But pregnant women are more likely to get it than people who are not pregnant. Listeriosis can cause serious problems such as ]]>premature delivery]]> , ]]>miscarriage]]> , and severe illness or death of your newborn.
]]>Parvovirus B19 Infection (Fifth Disease)]]> —This common virus affects about 50% of all adults, causing a “slapped cheek” rash on the face. This infection happens most often in children. If you have contact with a person who has fifth disease, there are usually no serious problems for you or your developing baby. Sometimes, parvovirus B19 infection causes a developing baby to have severe ]]>anemia]]> (low iron) or the woman may have a miscarriage.
]]>Rubella (German Measles)]]> —This mild childhood illness can cause serious birth defects in a developing fetus. For women who develop rubella in the first trimester of their pregnancy, there is a 25% chance that their baby will be born with one or more birth defects. These can include eye problems, ]]>hearing loss]]> , heart defects, and mental retardation. With the widespread use of the ]]>rubella vaccine]]> , major outbreaks of rubella no longer happen in the United States. Still, small outbreaks do happen. As many as 20% of childbearing women are at risk for this infection.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) —Some STDs, such as ]]>genital herpes]]> , ]]>chlamydia]]> , and ]]>bacterial vaginosis]]> , are commonly found in pregnant women. Other STDs, such as ]]>HIV]]> and ]]>syphilis]]> , are less commonly found in pregnant women. STDs can cause health problems such as:
- ]]>Cervical]]> and other cancers
- Chronic hepatitis
- ]]>Pelvic inflammatory disease]]>
- ]]>Infertility]]> (not being able to get pregnant in the future)
- ]]>Premature labor]]>
- Premature breaking of the membranes surrounding the developing baby
- Infection of the uterus after delivery
Also, some STDs can be passed from you to your baby before, during, or after birth.
]]>Toxoplasmosis]]> —This infection is caused by a parasite (a type of germ). The parasite lives in the intestine of cats and is shed in cat feces, mainly into litter boxes and garden soil. Toxoplasmosis cause serious problems in a fetus when contracted by a pregnant woman. Each year in the US, approximately 400-1,000 babies are born with this condition, which can cause blindness, hearing loss, learning disabilities, miscarriage, and stillbirth.
]]>Urinary Tract Infections]]> (UTIs or Bladder Infections) —This bacterial infection is more common during pregnancy because of changes in the urinary tract. If the UTI goes untreated, it may lead to a ]]>kidney infection]]> , which can cause early labor and low birth weight. If your doctor treats a urinary tract infection early, the UTI will not cause harm to your baby.
]]>What are the risk factors for infection during pregnancy?]]>
]]>What are the symptoms of infection during pregnancy?]]>
]]>How are infections during pregnancy diagnosed?]]>
]]>What are the treatments for infection during pregnancy?]]>
]]>Are there screening tests to monitor for infection during pregnancy?]]>
]]>How can I reduce my risk of having an infection during pregnancy?]]>
]]>What questions should I ask my healthcare provider about infection during pregnancy?]]>
]]>Where can I get more information about infection during pregnancy?]]>
Avoiding infections in pregnancy. UpToDate Patient Information website. Available at: http://patients.uptodate.com/topic.asp?file=pregnan/2251 . Accessed September 13, 2005.
Bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/bacterialvaginoses.htm . Accessed September 13, 2005.
Chickenpox (varicella). March of Dimes website. Available at: http://www.marchofdimes.com/pnhec/188_675.asp . Accessed September 2, 2005.
Chorioamnionitis.Cleveland Clinic Foundation website. Available at: http://www.clevelandclinic.org/health/health-info/docs/3800/3857.asp?index=12309 . Accessed September 13, 2005.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/cmv.htm . Accessed September 10, 2005.
Cytomegalovirus infection in pregnancy. March of Dimes website. Available at: http://www.marchofdimes.com/professionals/681_1195.asp . Accessed September 5, 2005.
Group B streptococcal disease (GBS). National Center for Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/groupbstrep_g.htm . Accessed September 13, 2005.
Listeria and pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/listeria.html . Accessed September 13, 2005.
Parvovirus B19 infection and pregnancy. National Center for Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/respiratory/B19&preg.htm . Accessed September 13, 2005.
Rubella. March of Dimes website. Available at: http://www.marchofdimes.com/pnhec/188_673.asp . Accessed September 2, 2005.
STDs and pregnancy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/STDFact-STDs&Pregnancy.htm#test . Accessed September 5, 2005.
Toxoplasmosis in pregnancy. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/180.xml . Accessed September 13, 2005.
Urinary tract infection during pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/utiduringpreg.html . Accessed September 2, 2005.
Last reviewed June 2007 by ]]>Ganson Purcell Jr., MD, FACOG, FACPE]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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