Maternal and Fetal Infections
- sexual transmission - transmission of an infection through sexual contact, including intercourse.
- airborne transmission - transmission of an infection through inhaling airborne droplets of the disease, which may exist in the air as a result of a cough or sneeze from an infected person.
- blood-borne transmission - transmission of an infection through contact with infected blood, such as when sharing hypodermic needles.
- direct skin contact - transmission of an infection through contact with the skin of an infected person.
- insect-borne transmission - transmission of an infection through insects, such as mosquitoes, which draw blood from an infected person and then bite a healthy person.
- food-borne transmission - transmission of an infection through consuming contaminated food.
- water-borne transmission - transmission of an infection through contact with contaminated water.
- other mechanisms that can transmit a disease
In pregnancy, infections are a common complication. Women may be more susceptible to the effects of infection during pregnancy because the immune system is naturally suppressed. Infections may cause problems for the developing fetus and may endanger the health of the mother. Some organisms that do not cause problems in non-pregnant women can be dangerous in pregnancy. Other organisms are not harmful for the pregnant woman, but can be harmful to the fetus.
What are the symptoms of an infection?The symptoms of an infection often depend on the organism causing the infection. Also, women with infection in pregnancy may or may not have obvious symptoms, or they may show different symptoms of an infection. The symptoms of an infection may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
How is an infection diagnosed?The diagnosis of an infection depends on the symptoms, and a history of exposure to the organism. Various tests may be performed routinely to rule out common infections. Some tests help determine the mother's immunity to an infectious disease such as rubella. Other tests, such as blood tests, cultures, or tissue samples, are used only when needed for diagnosis.
Treatment for an infection:Specific treatment for an infection will be determined by your physician based on:
- your pregnancy, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the disease
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the disease
- your opinion or preference
Prevention of infection:Some infections, such as urinary tract infections, may not be preventable. Prevention of other infections depends on the method of transmission. Women can reduce their risk of contracting some infectious diseases by avoiding contact with the infecting organism. For example, toxoplasmosis, which is found in cat feces, may be avoided by not having contact with litter boxes. Sexually transmitted diseases can be prevented by not having sexual contact with an infected partner.
There are many maternal and fetal infections that require clinical care by a physician. Listed in the directory below are some, for which we have prodded a brief overview.
If you cannot find the information in which you are interested, please visit the High-Risk Pregnancy Online Resources page in this Web site for an Internet/World Wide Web address that may contain additional information on that topic.
Group B Streptococcus
AIDS / HIV
Urinary Tract and Kidney Infections
The information on this Web page is provided for educational purposes. You understand and agree that this information is not intended to be, and should not be used as, a substitute for medical treatment by a health care professional. You agree that Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital is not making a diagnosis of your condition or a recommendation about the course of treatment for your particular circumstances through the use of this Web page. You agree to be solely responsible for your use of this Web page and the information contained on this page. Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital, its officers, directors, employees, agents, and information providers shall not be liable for any damages you may suffer or cause through your use of this page even if advised of the possibility of such damages.