The gestation period can be one of the most beautiful, but there are some common infections during pregnancy that should be considered. Do not be alarmed then most of them present with mild symptoms or, failing that, do not even manifest in the neonate in any way.
On the other side of the coin, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 2.4 million newborns die annually; a third of them on the same day of birth.
Fortunately, in places where the health infrastructure allows problems to be detected before they become disastrous, this figure is not the same. Still, there are certain considerations that you should keep in mind. Read on to find out all about the most common infections in pregnancy.
Why can infections arise during pregnancy?
According to the portal British Society for Immunology, the mother's immune cells interact and undergo changes so as not to reject the fetus and promote their growth and development. In addition to all these variations, the leukocytes have to continue working to avoid infections, both in the baby and in the pregnant woman.
Due to this process of variation, both hormonal and physical, it is normal for the mother to present a slightly reduced immune capacity, so she becomes more prone to contracting infections, as indicated by the portal Natalben. However, this does not have to translate into intrinsic damage to the fetus.
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More frequent infections during pregnancy
We do not want to leave anything in the pipeline, so We will briefly discuss the 3 most common infections in pregnancy and, finally, we enunciate a list with others not so extended, but that must be taken into account. Do not miss it.
Cytomegalovirus is a common virus in society, It is estimated that up to 60% of the population has been infected in high-income countries. In turn, from 1 to 7 out of every 100 babies face it, since the mother transmits it transplacentally.
In any case, according to studies, from the third trimester no infant has symptoms, despite being infected. And at the most susceptible moment – the first trimester – only 25% of babies will show some sign of pathology. It is so irrelevant at the clinical level that neither tests are done on pregnant women.
Toxoplasma gondii it is a widely distributed pathogen, as it is estimated that 50% of the population has been infected with it at some point in their life. Unlike cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis is more likely to cause harm to the fetus.
As indicated by the portal MSDmanuals, a woman with toxoplasmosis acquired during pregnancy can transmit it to the fetus, being much more worrying if this happens early in pregnancy. The newborn can be born with serious birth defects or miscarriage.
The vectors of toxoplasmosis are domestic cats, so the best prevention is to limit contact with them during pregnancy.
3. Zika virus
The Zika virus can pass from the mother to her child during pregnancy, as indicated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This pathology can be serious and cause microcephaly – a head that is too small – and other severe neurological and ocular damage in the newborn.
4. Other pathologies
We have named you what are perhaps the 3 best known infections during pregnancy, but there are more. Here are some of them:
Chickenpox: the varicella-zoster virus increases the chances of miscarriage. It is also associated with events of blindness, limb reduction, and microcephaly.
Rubella: it can cause insufficient growth of the fetus during pregnancy.
Genital herpes: Oddly enough, genital herpes can be transmitted to the baby, causing a serious neurological condition called herpetic encephalitis.
Gonorrhea: It causes conjunctivitis in newborns, as they carry the pathogenic bacteria in their eyes as they pass through the birth canal.
HIV: If a woman infected with HIV has a high viral load and it is not treated, she has a 30% to 40% chance of transmitting it to her fetus.
What are the effects of infections for babies and mothers?
Without a doubt, the worst part is always carried by the newborn. As we have seen, some of these pathologies translate into conjunctivitis and not too serious pictures, while others can end the life of the infant or cause it to be born with severe physiological impairments.
As indicated by the World Health Organization (WHO), 75% of women who die during childbirth do so from the following causes:
Infections after childbirth.
Complications in childbirth.
Thus, it is not expected that a pregnant woman will die of toxoplasmosis if she is infected, since it is likely that she will not even realize that she has it. What can be a danger, in all cases, is miscarriage and the health risks it entails.
How can infections be treated during pregnancy?
It is the medical specialist who must isolate the causative agent and prescribe a specific treatment. For example, antibiotics are often required for gonorrhea, while for toxoplasmosis drugs such as pyrimethamine, sulfadiazine, and folinic acid (leucovorin) are used.
On the other hand, antiretroviral drugs are often the way to go for HIV patients. Although the mother will not be cured, the amount of circulating virus decreases with these drugs, so the chances of infection will be much lower.
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Prevention is the key
During the time of pregnancy, it may not be the best idea to travel to exotic places – to avoid Zika – to have unprotected sex with strangers – to avoid STIs such as gonorrhea – or to come into contact with animals other than your own – to avoid toxoplasmosis.
This does not mean that a pregnant person should withdraw from the world, but yes be careful and stay calm in a controlled environment. In this way, infections during pregnancy, both mild and severe, will be avoided.
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