Unlike fungal infections during pregnancy, which have little to no impact on the newborn child, there are some serious infections that may not only be passed on to the baby in their mother’s womb, but may also lead to a lifetime of disability.
Here are three of the riskiest ones when left untreated.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is a persistent type of herpesvirus infection that can be acquired through bodily fluids, but not necessarily through sexual contact.
CMV is a dangerous virus that may need potent antivirals to be kept in check. It is also the most common infection a baby may be diagnosed with at birth.
It is dangerous to the unborn child because it can negatively impact the baby’s brain development, which may increase its risk of blindness, deafness, mental retardation, microcephaly, epilepsy, and lifelong disability like cerebral palsy.
The risk is much greater if it is the first time the expecting mother has contracted the virus. Babies who have the infection at birth will likely have to deal with neurological issues later on as well.
If left untreated, CMV in a baby may up the risk of diabetes, eyesight issues, hearing loss, mental impairment, and more.
There is no official cure for CMV, but antivirals are successfully used to help alleviate and prevent some of the most severe symptoms.
CMV can be spread from the mother or a caregiver to the child before or shortly (up to 30 months) after birth.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is another infection that should not be left untreated during pregnancy as it may lead to birth defects and other complications.
It is caused by an uncontrolled spread of the bad bacteria in the vagina, which usually leads to dangerously low levels of health-promoting bacteria like lactobacillus. The imbalance is commonly spurred by the many hormone changes tied to pregnancy.
Unlike CMV infections, bacterial vaginosis is not caused by a virus which means that it can be successfully treated with the right antibiotics.
It is estimated that up to 30% of expecting mothers may experience BV at some point during their pregnancies. In the U.S., 1 million pregnant women are diagnosed with the infection every year.
If left untreated, bacterial vaginosis may up the baby’s risk of low birth weight and premature birth, two major risk factors for serious disability such as cerebral palsy.
If you’re an expecting mom, step away from that cat litter box! Toxoplasmosis is a serious infection that ups the risk of miscarriage and serious disability in the baby.
The infection is caused by a protozoan parasite that can be found in cat feces. In the U.S.A., one in 10 children aged six or older has been infected with the parasite. In the developing world, that number jumps to nine out of 10 children.
Cats acquire the parasite by consuming raw meat such as rodents or birds. They later pass the infection on through their feces.
If you are pregnant and have a cat, keep it indoors and don’t feed it uncooked meat. Also, ask somebody else to change the litter. Steer clear of untreated water sources as well.
Just like CMV, toxoplasmosis can be passed to the baby during pregnancy. Both infected mothers and their children don’t show any symptoms, but the parasite can cause irreversible birth defects, miscarriage, and stillbirth.
There is treatment for both the mother and the child if the infection occurred. Babies should continue treatment during the first year of their life.
Here are some of the most common but dangerous infections during pregnancy that may lead to severe disability including birth complications commonly resulting in cerebral palsy in the newborn child.
If you are an expecting mother and you believe that you might have acquired any of these infections, talk to a doctor immediately. There are treatments out there that can help both the mother and her child.
Don’t take your chances with any of these conditions. Your baby risks paying a heavy price probably all their life.
*Disclaimer – The information in the post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be medical advice. If you feel you may be at risk of serious infection, please make sure you talk with your GP, obstetrician or midwife.