All you Need to Know about Maternal Infections during Pregnancy

Updated at: Nov 14, 2013
All you Need to Know about Maternal Infections during Pregnancy

Proper care should be taken to prevent any maternal infection during pregnancy as a pregnant woman is prone to develop many kinds of infections and transmit them to the foetus.

Aparna Mir
PregnancyWritten by: Aparna MirPublished at: Jan 30, 2012

When a pregnant woman gets infected, it does not mean that the foetus will be infected too, but it certainly increases the foetus' risk of developing some type of disese.

maternal infection during pregnancyMaternal infection during pregnancy should not be ignored as they can cause deficiencies in foetal neurodevelopment, and the child may develop many other diseases such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, autism, mental retardation and cerebral palsy.

Maternal infections are transmitted to the foetus, either across the placenta during foetal development or during labour and pass through the birth canal. Generally,  antibodies in the maternal blood prevent most infections from being transmitted to the foetus. Some infections, however, particularly in the first trimester of pregnancy can get transferred to the foetus leading to miscarriage or severe birth defects. There are many kinds of infections affecting the mother during pregnancy, like:


Viral Respiratory Infections

  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common infection that can be transmitted to the foetus. This type of virus can cause congenital infection and non-hereditary deafness. CMV infection may cause preterm labour, stillbirth or serious newborn illnesses.
  • A foetus infected by Varicella zoster virus via the mother may develop pocks that can cause limb deformities early in development. If a woman develops chickenpox during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, there is 2% chance that her newborn will have varicella syndrome.
  • Parvovirus B19 causes erythema infection in the mother. This infection can cause pregnancy loss within the first 20 weeks.


Bacterial Infections

A woman during pregnancy is prone to bacterial infections caused by Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. These can cause miscarriage, foetal or newborn death, premature delivery or severe illness in the mother and infant.


Sexually Transmitted Infections

  • AIDS, caused by HIV virus is the most common sexually transmitted infection that affects the foetus. About 20-25 per cent of pregnant women with untreated HIV transmit it to their foetuses.
  • About 2 to 5 per cent of pregnant women suffer from Gonnorrheal infection. It causes ophthalmic infections in the infants.
  • Syphilis is the other sexually transmitted disease that can affect the mother during pregnancy. It causes genital lesions within 10-90 days. It can also cause premature birth or stillbirth.

Apart from the above, a mother can develop other infections also such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, candidiasis, pneumonia, several urinary tract infections and even minor cough and cold.

Maternal infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth. These infections can get transmitted to the foetus causing severe birth defects to the child. So, proper care should be taken if a woman gets infected during pregnancy. Good hygiene and proper vaccination can prevent maternal infections during pregnancy.



Read more articles on Pregnancy Problems.




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