Preventing Prenatal Infections

by Brian M. Williams

Preventing Prenatal InfectionsPregnant moms already face see-saw emotions, battle cravings and fret about the multiple twinges and kicks taking place.

It seems that there is always something to be concerned with and a mom-to-be can't just relax. But as the old saying goes, better to be prepared and prevent then have one of these infections affect you and your baby.

Here is a short list you want to prevent:

  • Untreated urinary tract infections
  • Group B Streptococcus
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • CMV -- Cytomegalovirus
  • Contagious kids with rubella, fifth's disease and other sicknesses

The list sounds scary and unpleasant. We're not overly fond of it either. Since February is International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month, it's the perfect time to become more aware of what's out there and use simple steps to guard yourself against infections and protect you and your baby.

Prevention Awareness and Tips

Even though some of these suggestions might seem like common sense solutions, they will make a difference for you.

Wash your hands.The first and simplest way to stave off infection is by washing your hands regularly with soap and water, especially after:

  • Using the bathroom
  • Changing diapers
  • Caring for or playing with young children
  • Touching raw meat, raw eggs and unwashed vegetables
  • Gardening or handling soil
  • Handling pets
  • Being around sick people

If soap and running water aren't available, you can substitute an alcohol-based hand gel.

Clean surfaces. Use soap and water or a disinfectant to clean toys, countertops, and other surfaces that may have a child's saliva or urine on them.

Sharing is not Caring. This time around, it isn't wise to share forks, cups, food, or a toothbrush with your child (or anyone else). That includes "washing" your child's pacifier in your mouth.

Follow cooking instructions. Cook your meat until it's well done. The juices should run clear and there should be no pink inside. Reheat hot dogs, luncheon meats and deli meats until steaming hot.

Skip the packaged salads and sprouts. These could be breeding grounds for bacteria or worse. If you're craving the green stuff, opt for fresh and use a good vegetable/fruit cleanser before eating produce.

Avoid unpasteurized milk products. Don't eat soft cheeses such as feta, brie, and queso fresco unless they're labels pasteurized. Unpasteurized products can contain harmful bacteria like listeria.

Delegate Cat Litter Duty. Ask someone else do it. If you do change the litter yourself, wear gloves and wash your hands afterwards.

Stay away from sick people. This isn't easy when your child's sick. No matter what, you truly want to avoid people who have chickenpox or rubella. If you can't keeps away, wash your hands often.

Avoid wild or pet rodents and their droppings. If you have a pet rodent, like a hamster or guinea pig, have someone tend it until after your baby arrives. Some rodents might carry a harmful virus.

Ask your doctor about Group B Strep. About one in four women carry this type of bacteria. An easy swab test near the end of pregnancy will show if you have this type of bacteria. If you test positive, consult your doctor on next steps.

Let your midwife or doctor know if you've been exposed to viruses such as fifth disease ("slapped cheek disease" or chicken pox). They will be able to tell you what to do next.

Infections at a Glance

According to the Group B Strep International website, Group B streptococcus is the leading infectious killer of newborns. Other types of infections that can be harmful to an unborn or newborn baby.