International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month

International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month

Preventing Prenatal Infections

Infections during pregnancy can be harmful to both you and your baby’s health. It’s estimated that over 60% of women in the U.S. experience at least 1 infection at some point during pregnancy, most commonly within the first (3-month) trimester.

For over 2 million families worldwide, prenatal infection – a fungal, parasitic, viral, or bacterial infection passed from mother to baby during pregnancy or delivery – results in infant death. Additionally, many more babies exposed to prenatal infection often face lifelong disabilities, like hearing loss or learning problems, serious illness, or birth defects due to prenatal infections.

February is International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month. Your local Capital Women’s Care team of women’s healthcare professionals shares important tips for you to implement so you protect yourself and your unborn baby from infections, giving you both best opportunity for achieving and enjoying long quality lives.

Optimize Your Baby’s Prenatal Health

Fortunately, you can take recognized precautions and make healthy choices to reduce infection risk, as many such infections can be avoided through simple protective measures.

Following these tips can help you optimize your baby’s prenatal health:

  • Initiate a personal preconception health plan. Before you become pregnant, ideally 3 months prior, schedule an appointment with your local Capital Women’s Care practitioner to devise a personal perinatal health plan.

    Discuss personal health goals, including establishing healthy weight, eating plan, and exercise regimen; getting up to date on important vaccines that also benefit your unborn baby; initiating safeguards at work to avoid exposure to dangerous environmental elements; and avoiding harmful travel risks. Talk with your Capital Women’s Care practitioner before traveling to areas with Zika, a virus that can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy or to her baby around the time of birth. Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby’s head and brain are smaller than babies of the same age and sex, and other severe brain defects. Strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip. See the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) contemplating pregnancy recommendations.

  • Follow recommendations for prenatal checkups. During pregnancy, regular checkups are quite important. Consistent prenatal care can help keep you and your baby healthy, identify problems early and prevent problems during delivery.

    Routine checkups occur:
    - once each month for weeks 4 through 28.
    - twice a month for weeks 28 through 36.
    - and weekly for weeks 36 to birth.

    Women with high-risk pregnancies need to see their doctors more often.

  • Schedule and get recommended tests throughout your pregnancy. During pregnancy your practitioner will recommend many tests to ensure you and your baby’s health. These include tests for anemia, gestational diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) like HIV and Strep B and other common prenatal tests and screenings to optimize your baby’s health. Learn more about STDs and STIs here.

  • Be up to date on your vaccinations.  Some vaccinations are recommended before you become pregnant, during pregnancy, or right after delivery. Having the right vaccinations at the right time can help keep you healthy and help keep your baby from getting very sick or having life-long health problems. Learn more about vaccinations here.

  • Get your flu shot. Pregnant women face increased risk for critical illness and death from flu.

  • Schedule a Tdap vaccine. Pregnant women are encouraged to get the Tdap vaccine at any time during pregnancy, but optimally between 27 to 36 weeks of each pregnancy, to protect you and your baby from pertussis, known as whooping cough. Tdap vaccine is recommended during every pregnancy, regardless of how long since you previously received it. If you didn’t get a Tdap vaccine during your pregnancy and have never had it, the CDC recommends getting the vaccine immediately after giving birth.

  • Practice good hygiene and wash your hands with soap and water after
    - using the bathroom.
    - touching raw meat, raw eggs, or unwashed fruits and vegetables.
    - preparing food and eating.
    - gardening or touching dirt or soil.
    - handling pets.
    - being around people with sicknesses.
    - getting another’s saliva on your hands.
    - caring for and playing with children.
    - and changing diapers.

    Learn more about the importance of washing your hands here.

  • Be cautious when caring for household pets like rodents, tortoises, lizards and cats plus avoid exposure to wild rodents and their droppings.

    Women who may be pregnant shouldn’t change dirty cat litter. If they must come in contact with dirty cat litter they should wear gloves and thoroughly wash their hands afterwards due to potential exposure to a harmful parasite that causes toxoplasmosis.

    If you have wild rodents around your home, contact a professional to take care of pest control. Pet rodents like guinea pigs and hamsters should be cared for by another household member until your baby is born, as should tortoises and lizards, as some might carry a harmful virus called lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV).

  • Eliminate consumption of unpasteurized (raw) milk and foods containing it. Avoid eating soft cheeses, like feta, brie, and queso fresco, unless they have labels clearly stating they are pasteurized. Unpasteurized dairy products like raw milk and cheeses can contain harmful bacteria that causes listeria. Learn more about food safety and handling here.

  • Cook meat until its juices run clear without any pink inside. Ground meat should be cooked to a minimum of 160°F (71° C). Cook poultry to at least 165° F (74°C). For other meat like beef and pork, cook it to a minimum of 145° F (63°C) and let it rest for several minutes after cooking. Don’t eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats unless they are reheated until steaming hot. Undercooked and processed meats might contain Listeria monocytogenes, a harmful bacteria.

  • Avoid people who have infections or illnesses. If you haven’t had or didn’t have the vaccine before pregnancy, isolate yourself from people who you know have infections, like chickenpox or rubella during pregnancy. Chickenpox can cause pregnancy complications and birth defects; rubella can cause serious birth defects and put you at risk for miscarriage or stillbirth.

  • Ask your Capital Women’s Care practitioner about group B strep. About 25% of women carry this type of bacteria, yet don’t feel sick. An easy swab test near the end of your pregnancy will determine if Strep B is present. If you do have group B strep, talk to your Capital Women’s Care practitioner about how to protect your baby during labor. Click here to learn more about group B streptococcus.

  • Minimize contact with saliva and urine from babies and young children. A common virus known as cytomegalovirus (CMV) can cause issues for some babies, including microcephaly and hearing loss. A CMV-infected pregnant woman can pass the virus to her developing baby. Women may be able to lessen their risk of getting CMV by reducing contact with saliva and urine from babies and young children: including avoiding the sharing food and utensils with babies and young children and washing hands thoroughly after changing diapers. These actions can’t eliminate your CMV risk but may lessen it. Fifth disease is another virus which can cause health issues in unborn babies. Both CMV and fifth disease are common among daycare populations.

Your local Capital Women’s Care team of women’s health professionals is here to answer your questions or concerns about prenatal infection prevention or any women’s health issue. Our group of compassionate women’s health experts offer you and your family unparalleled comprehensive care and treatment, so you and your family achieve and enjoy long quality lives.


Our Mission

The providers of Capital Women's Care seek the highest quality medical and ethical standard in an environment that nurtures the spirit of caring for every woman.


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