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Protecting your child from infections

Chickenpox

  • Chickenpox can cause problems for both mother and baby in pregnancy
  • About 95 per cent of pregnant women are immune to it
  • If you haven't had it, tell your doctor at your ante natal appointment
  • If you aren't immune and think you may have come into contact with chickenpox, tell your doctor
  • A blood test can show whether or not you are immune - you may have had chickenpox in the past and not know it
  • Doctors can give you an anti-viral drug to prevent problems but you must take it within 10 days of being exposed

Rubella (German Measles)

  • Rubella can cause serious problems for unborn children if caught in early pregnancy
  • A blood test at your booking appointment will show whether you are immune or not
  • If you are not immune and you suspect you may have been exposed, see your doctor
  • A blood test can tell if you have been infected
  • Doctors can also test to see if your child has been affected
  • If your child is affected you will be offered counseling to help you decide what to do next

Group B streptococcus (GBS)

  • Many women have this bacterium in their vagina and it usually causes no symptoms
  • It can be passed to your child during labour
  • In rare cases it can cause a serious infection in newborn children
  • You will be given intravenous antibiotics to protect your child if:
    • your waters break early
    • you are in premature labour
    • you have a fever during labour
    • you are known to have GBS

Genital herpes

  • If you get genital herpes for the first time in pregnancy (primary infection), tell your doctor
  • A drug called acyclovir can help control the symptoms
  • If you have a primary genital herpes infection near your due date, doctors will advise you to have a caesarean
  • This will prevent the disease being transmitted to your child

Toxoplasmosis

  • This parasite is found in cat feces and raw or undercooked meat
  • It generally causes mild, flu-like symptoms
  • It can harm your child if you catch it during pregnancy
  • Most of us are immune to it
  • To avoid catching toxoplasmosis in pregnancy:
    • avoid emptying cat litter trays or use disposable rubber gloves
    • wear gloves when gardening in case the soil contains feces
    • only eat well-cooked meat
  • If you think you may have been infected, talk to your doctor
  • They will organize a blood test to check
  • Antibiotics can reduce any harm to your child

Parvovirus (slapped cheek disease)

  • In rare cases, this normally mild childhood disease can cause problems for your unborn child
  • Symptoms include a red rash on the cheeks, hence the name
  • If you think you may have been exposed see your doctor
  • A blood test can tell if you are immune or not
  • Even if you have been exposed, your child will usually be fine

HIV

  • The HIV virus can be transmitted to your child during labour and also via breast milk
  • You will be offered a confidential test for the virus in early pregnancy
  • If you are found to have it, doctors can take steps to keep you in good health and reduce the risk of transmission to your child

If you are worried or have any health care concerns contact your doctor.

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