Precautions to take during Pregnancy
So PLEASE don't be alarmed by the number of diseases that can cause miscarriages
or other prenatal complications...I felt it was important to be as comprehensive
as possible. Most are very uncommon and/or easy to avoid with a few simple precautions.
When you are pregnant part of your immune system weakens (perhaps to prevent
your body from rejecting something "foreign" like a fetus?) and thus you can
become more susceptible to diseases that normally wouldn't make you sick. Additionally,
some microbes (bacteria, viruses or parasites) can pass across the placental
barrier, thus infecting the fetus.
To avoid contracting a disease that can put you at risk for a miscarriage
- Make sure your vaccinations are current
before you become pregnant (especially for measles, rubella
and chicken pox)
- Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating.
- Eat only well cooked meats and fish.
- Limit your contact with animals.
- Don't eat unpasteurized dairy products.
A note about Vitamins
If you are trying to get pregnant, or think you may be, it is important to
take between 400-800 micrograms (or 0.4 - 0.8 mg) of FOLIC ACID every
day. This vitamin, when taken before and at the beginning of pregnancy,
reduces the risk of brain and spinal cord defects. Your body needs it to produce
red blood cells, as well as certain chemical components of the nervous system.
It also helps synthesize DNA, normalize brain function and is a critical part
of spinal fluid.
Prenatal vitamins should have these amounts of folic acid in addition
to many other vitamins that will help insure a healthy pregnancy!
A note about aspirin
(2004) Recent research suggests caution in the taking of aspirin during pregnancy.
Ginger appears to be a safe and mildly effective treatment for nausea and
vomiting during pregnancy according to an article in the American Journal
of Obstetrics and Gynecology, November 2003
Details on each disease that can affect pregnancy
This condition is caused by a parasite. This means that it
needs a host (i.e. an animal) to thrive and reproduce.
To prevent acquiring it you should:
Toxoplasmosis is found in many parts of the world. Many Europeans are exposed
to it from a young age, and have thus developed immunity to it (it can't make
them sick). Complications are more likely if you are infected in the first trimester
- NEVER go near animal feces (i.e. have someone else care for the cat, dog
or bird and their litter). This includes wearing gloves while gardening and
washing your hands well afterwards, since animal droppings are commonly found
- Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables
- Do not eat poorly cooked meat (& fish)
about how to protect yourself from toxoplasmosis if you are pregnant
info about the disease
This condition is caused by a bacteria.
To prevent acquiring it you should (according to USDA recommendations):
While many bacteria can only grow in certain places and in certain temperatures,
Listeria bacteria can grow in all sorts of conditions...in fact, they grow EXTREMELY
well at 4 ºC, the temperature of your refridgerator!
- Reheat until steaming hot the following types of ready-to-eat foods: hot
dogs, luncheon meats, deli meats, cold cuts, fermented and dry sausage and
meat and poultry. If you cannot reheat these foods, do not eat them.
- Wash hands with hot, soapy water after handling these types of ready-to-eat
foods. (Wash for at least 20 seconds.) Also wash cutting boards, dishes and
utensils. Thorough washing helps eliminate any bacteria that might get on
your hands or other surfaces from food before its been reheated. Washing helps
eliminate bacteria that might spread from food before it is reheated.
- Avoid eating soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined varieties
or Mexican-style cheese. At-risk consumers can eat hard cheeses, processed
cheeses, cream cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt.
- Observe all expiration dates for perishable items that are precooked or
- Do not drink raw, unpasteurized milk or eat foods made from it, such as
info on Listeriosis
Chicken pox, measles and rubella (german measles)
These are all caused by viruses (for more information, see the factsheets
under "Infectious Diseases" on this site)
These diseases cause SERIOUS fetal complications
including: death, deafness, heart defects, mental retardation, and organ damage,
among other things.
very comprehensive summary of Rubella
info on Chickenpox
nurse's advice on red measles exposure during pregnancy
This is caused by a virus that only infects humans (i.e. you can only catch this
disease from another person). Many people develop immunity during their adolescence
and for those that aren't immune, the risk for complications, like miscarriage,
is very low. It is generally a mild illness.
info from the CDC
While a pregnant woman may experience very mild symptoms from a CMV infection,
there is a risk of serious complications (like death, deafness or retardation)
if the woman is infected FOR THE FIRST TIME during her pregnancy.
A very clear
OK, here's where I have to get a bit graphic. Hepatitis E virus is transmitted
by the fecal-oral route. That means that when an infected person doesn't wash
their hands after going to the bathroom, the virus (which is present in large
quantities in the feces) can be passed on to you when those hands come in contact
with your food or utensils, for instance. When countries have poor santitation
this means that drinking water can be contaminated with feces as well. Hepatitis
E is very uncommon in the US, but is more prevalent in Mexico, Northern Africa
and Central Asia. 15-25% of infected pregnant women die! A VERY
high fatality rate (normally 1-2% if you are not pregnant)
info on ALL types of Hepatitis
Details on Hepatitis
from "Parents of Kids with Infectious Disease" website
Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV)
A virus, which can be passed from rodents (such as common house mice) to humans.
info on LCMV
about LCMV taken from Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2001;33:370-374
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