Infections to be aware of

Group B Streptococcus

Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a type of bacteria that is found in up to 30% of pregnant women. It doesn't cause problems in most pregnancies but in a small number of cases it can infect the baby and cause serious illness. Most GBS infections in newborn babies can be prevented by giving women who are identified as being at risk antibiotics during labour. 

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that can be transmitted from infected mothers to their babies at, or around, the time of birth. Babies acquiring infection at this time have a high risk of becoming carriers of the virus. This can be prevented by immunising at birth all babies born to mothers who carry the virus. Those who have the virus, as well as being infectious to others, are at increased risk of developing liver disease. All pregnant women are offered a blood test for hepatitis B in early pregnancy.

Hepatitis C

Screening for Hepatitis C infection will be offered to those mothers who may be at an increased risk of infection. Previous or current intravenous drug use can be a risk factor, especially if syringes have been shared. Approximately 5% of babies born to Hepatitis C positive mothers will acquire the infection. It is important to identify infected babies so that the appropriate care can be provided for them.

Herpes

Genital herpes infection can be dangerous for a newborn baby. If you or your partner are infected please let your midwife know.

HIV and AIDS

All pregnant women will be offered a test for HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). If you are found to be HIV positive or already know that you are your doctor will need to discuss the treatment options and management of your pregnancy and delivery with you. Specialist counselling is available during pregnancy for women who are HIV positive.

Human parvovirus B19

Human ​parvovirus B19 or ‘slapped cheek syndrome’ is very common in children and causes a characteristic red rash on the face. Although 60% of adults are immune to the infection, it is highly contagious and may cause miscarriage in early pregnancy. See your GP or midwife as soon as possible if you think you’ve come into contact with someone who is infected.

Influenza (Flu)

It is advised that all pregnant women should get vaccinated during the seasonal flu vaccination programme. Please see your GP for details.

MRSA

All patients are screened for MRSA when they are admitted to Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie if your stay is longer than 23 hours.

Rubella

Rubella (also known as German measles) is a viral infection that used to be common in children. The only time that rubella becomes a serious concern is if a pregnant woman catches the infection during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. This is because the rubella virus can disrupt the development of the baby and cause a wide range of health problems. Rubella status is checked at booking in all pregnant women. If you have contact with a person with a rubella-like rash or symptoms (rash with or without joint pains), or you have the symptoms yourself in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, contact your GP. Most children in the UK are now immunised against rubella with the MMR vaccine as part of their routine childhood immunisation programme. If you are not immune you will be offered the Rubella vaccination after pregnancy.

Syphilis

All pregnant women are offered screening for syphilis, a disease that is now extremely rare, but screening is important because if you have syphilis, treatment prevents damage to the fetus. A consultant appointment will be made for you in the unlikely event of a positive test result.

Toxoplasmosis

This infection can be harmful to unborn babies. It is caused by a parasite found in meat, cat faeces and soil. It is important to wear gloves when you are gardening or changing cat litter and ensure you wash your hands well, particularly when visiting parks, farms, zoos and other places where you may come in to contact with animals. Lamb and sheep can carry an organism which is known to cause miscarriage in ewes. They also carry toxoplasma. Pregnant women should avoid all contact with newborn lambs.

Whooping cough

It is currently recommended that all pregnant women should get vaccinated against whooping cough when they are 28-38 weeks pregnant. This is a new recommendation, as there has been a sharp rise in the number of whooping cough cases in the UK. Whooping cough is a serious illness. Babies who get it can develop severe complications and those who are too young to be vaccinated are at greatest risk (babies are vaccinated when they are two months old). Getting vaccinated while you’re pregnant may help to protect your baby from developing whooping cough in his or her first few weeks of life. The immunity you get from the vaccine will pass to your baby through the placenta. 

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