February is Prenatal Infection Prevention Month

Did you know that February is prenatal infection prevention month? This is a time to raise awareness and educate expectant parents and health care providers about the risks and prevention of infections during pregnancy. Prenatal infections can cause serious complications for both the mother and the baby, such as miscarriage, preterm labor, birth defects, and even death.

Some of the most common prenatal infections worldwide are:

  • Group B streptococcus (GBS): a type of bacteria that can be found in the vagina or rectum of about 25% of pregnant women. It usually does not cause any symptoms or problems, but it can be passed to the baby during delivery and cause sepsis, pneumonia, or meningitis.
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV): a common virus that can infect anyone, but most people do not have any symptoms. However, if a pregnant woman gets infected with CMV for the first time, she can pass it to her baby in the womb and cause hearing loss, vision loss, intellectual disability, or other problems.
  • Toxoplasmosis: a parasitic infection that can be contracted by eating undercooked meat, unwashed fruits and vegetables, or coming into contact with cat feces. It can cause serious damage to the baby’s brain and eyes.
  • Zika virus: a mosquito-borne virus that can also be transmitted through sexual contact. It can cause microcephaly (a condition where the baby’s head is smaller than normal) and other birth defects.

The good news is that there are ways to prevent these and other prenatal infections. Here are some tips:

  • Get tested for GBS in your third trimester and receive antibiotics during labor if you are positive.
  • Wash your hands often and avoid sharing food, drinks, utensils, or personal items with anyone who may have CMV.
  • Cook your meat well and wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly. Avoid contact with cat litter or soil where cats may have defecated.
  • Use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors. Avoid traveling to areas where Zika virus is prevalent. Use condoms or abstain from sex if you or your partner may have been exposed to Zika virus.
  • Get vaccinated for influenza (flu) and other diseases as recommended by your doctor. Some vaccines are safe and beneficial during pregnancy, while others should be avoided or delayed until after delivery. (note: this is not MFD advocating for or against vaccines. We encourage you to ask questions and do your research!)
  • See your doctor regularly for prenatal care and follow their advice on screening tests, medications, supplements, and other aspects of your pregnancy.

Prenatal infection prevention is not only important for your health, but also for your baby’s health. By following these simple steps, you can reduce the risk of complications and have a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Happy prenatal infection prevention month!