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Tue, Aug. 20

Take action to protect your baby from infections

If you're pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you take some simple steps to protect your unborn baby or newborn from infections that cause serious health problems.

Group B Strep: Anyone who is pregnant needs to know about group B strep, also known as GBS. About a quarter of all women carry the bacteria that cause GBS infection. GBS bacteria are usually not harmful to you and won't make the people around you sick. But GBS bacteria can be very dangerous for your newborn. Babies can get very sick and even die if their mothers pass GBS bacteria to them during childbirth. That's why it's so important to get tested for GBS each time you get pregnant. Ask for the test when you are 35-37 weeks pregnant (ninth month). If you test positive, doctors can give you an antibiotic (usually penicillin) during labor that will prevent the bacteria from spreading to your baby.

Cytomegalovirus: The best way to protect your unborn child from cytomegalovirus (CMV) is to protect yourself - especially by washing your hands. A woman infected with CMV can pass the virus to her unborn child. As a result, this infection can lead to birth defects or other serious problems - even death. The risk of getting CMV through casual contact is very small. Usually the virus is passed from infected people to others through direct contact with body fluids. Practicing good hygiene can reduce your chance of CMV infection while pregnant. Wash your hands thoroughly (15-20 seconds) with soap and water, especially after changing diapers or coming into contact with children's body fluids.

Listeriosis: Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis. About one-third of listeriosis cases happen during pregnancy. Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria bacteria. It mostly affects pregnant women, newborns, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or infection in newborns. In general, you can protect yourself from listeriosis by eating foods that are thoroughly cleaned and cooked. If you are infected, your doctor can give you antibiotics that can protect your unborn baby or newborn - so remember that it's always important to let your doctor know if you are allergic to any antibiotics.

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