Get the Facts: Prenatal Infection Prevention Month
February 17, 2022February is International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month to promote worldwide awareness of prenatal infections that can be transmitted from mother to baby. Below are some infections that can occur during pregnancy, their causes, and how moms-to-be can help prevent prenatal infections.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV)
Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) that can be transmitted from mother to baby at birth. If the newborn isn’t immunized, the infection poses a serious risk to the infant, including chronic HBV infection. Approximately one-fourth of infants who are infected with HBV will eventually die from chronic liver disease.1
To help prevent prenatal HBV transmission, infected pregnant women can receive hepatitis B immune globulin, and infants can be given the hepatitis B vaccine with 12 hours of their birth.
Rubella (German Measles)
Although rubella has been nearly eliminated in the U.S. because of the customary vaccination of children, people who were never vaccinated can still get infected as adults. Pregnant women with the infection can pass it along to their unborn babies, causing serious problems, especially within the first three months of pregnancy.
Rubella can be prevented by vaccination, which protects you against rubella for life. Before becoming pregnant, women can get the MMR vaccine that protects against rubella to reduce prenatal infection.2
Varicella is a highly contagious viral infection that causes a mild fever and rash comprised of itchy inflamed blisters. Most people who have had chickenpox will be immune to the disease for the rest of their lives. But women who are pregnant and who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine for chickenpox are at risk of complications if they contract the virus.
The complications and risks depend on when you contract the virus during pregnancy. If chickenpox is contracted in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, baby is at a slight risk of developing congenital varicella syndrome, a rare group of serious birth defects, which may cause skin scarring and abnormalities of the eye, brain, limbs, and gastrointestinal system. If contracted days before delivery or 48 hours after delivery, baby could be born with a potentially life-threatening infection called neonatal varicella.3
Before becoming pregnant, if you haven’t already had chickenpox or been vaccinated, ask your healthcare provider about the chickenpox vaccine.
As you think about beginning your pregnancy journey, it’s important to make sure you are up to date on all vaccines and get routine prenatal screening to help reduce the risks of prenatal infections. Because some vaccines are not recommended directly before or during pregnancy, you should consult with your healthcare provider to discuss adult vaccine recommendations before conceiving.
Prenate® Vitamin Family
This post is brought to you by the Prenate® Vitamin Family, a line of prescription prenatal supplements designed to enhance preconception, prenatal, and postpartum nutrition in women. Talk with your doctor about how taking a daily prescription prenatal or postnatal vitamin could help support a healthy pregnancy and postpartum wellness.