Being sick is always something to be avoided. Nobody goes out of their way to get sick, but not everyone is as cautious as they could be, either.
When you’re pregnant, it is more important than ever to take care of your health and to avoid unneeded risks. Any diseases or illnesses that significantly affect a pregnant mother will take some toll on the baby as well.
There are a few illnesses you should be especially wary of during pregnancy. We’ve compiled a shortlist of diseases that pose the greatest risk and what can be done to avoid them. At the end are links where you can find out more about how to stay healthy when pregnant.
1. Chicken Pox
The good news is that if you already have had
Chickenpox once in your life, like most people, then you’ve developed the antibodies making you immune to it again in the future. If you’ve never had it, however, it’s important you avoid it at all costs. It can result in a condition called fetal varicella syndrome, or FVS. This can cause eye series of physical disabilities as well as learning disabilities. It’s not a foregone conclusion this will happen to your child if you have chickenpox, but the later in the pregnancy the greater the risks. This can also lead to shingles for your baby as it stems from the same virus.
If you think you’ve been exposed to the chickenpox virus, talk to your doctor.
2. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
You can have a UTI in any part of your urinary tract, and it is caused by bacteria entering your urethra and traveling upstream. It is one of the more common diseases, and it’s easy to avoid and easy to treat. A UTI that’s left untreated boosts your risk of getting a kidney infection, and it also increases the chance of preterm labor and having a low-birth-weight baby. UTI’s have also been linked to an increased risk of newborn mortality. This is one of the reasons urine is always tested during pregnancy.
Make sure you pee when you feel the need. Don’t hold it in as bacteria can multiply in the bladder.
Most people are vaccinated to Rubella, and standard blood tests will let you know if you’re immune. Although rare nowadays, it is still worth noting for its lethality. If it’s caught early in the pregnancy, it can result in a miscarriage or your baby developing congenital rubella syndrome (CRS.) This can lead to serious disabilities to your child, such as brain damage, heart abnormalities, and deafness. Stay away from anyone infected. If you do get exposed, contact your doctor to ensure your immunity or otherwise receive a shot that may help.
4. Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is caused by the same virus responsible for herpes and cold cores. CMV is transmitted through bodily fluids – so can be passed on through saliva, sexual fluids, and urine. A third of women who are infected with CMV for the first time while they are pregnant will pass it on to their unborn baby. About 1 percent of children are born with the infection passed on to them, a condition called congenital CMV. There’s no cure for CMV, but drugs can help treat newborns and people with weak immune systems.
If you believe you may have been exposed to CMV, it’s important you get tested immediately.
Listeriosis is caused by a bacteria found in certain foods, soil, and animal poo. Listeriosis is almost 20 times more likely to affect pregnant women, compared with most adults due to their compromised immune systems. Although also exceedingly rare, this disease is a cause for concern when due to the seriousness of its side effects on the baby.
When a pregnant woman has listeriosis, the infection may be passed on to her baby in the womb or during birth. This can lead to premature birth, miscarriage, or stillborn birth.
Recognizing the infection and quickly treating it with antibiotics is your best bet in protecting your child.
These are just a handful of the diseases to watch out for while pregnant. Don’t stress, though, and remember the best way to protect yourself is to avoid people you know to be infected and to be mindful of what you eat.