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Protecting Your Child from Infections



  • Chickenpox can cause problems for both mother and baby in pregnancy
  • About 95 per cent of pregnant women are immune to it
  • If you haven't had it, tell your doctor at your ante natal appointment
  • If you aren't immune and think you may have come into contact with chickenpox, tell your doctor
  • A blood test can show whether or not you are immune - you may have had chickenpox in the past and not know it
  • Doctors can give you an anti-viral drug to prevent problems but you must take it within 10 days of being exposed

Rubella (German Measles)

  • Rubella can cause serious problems for unborn children if caught in early pregnancy
  • A blood test at your booking appointment will show whether you are immune or not
  • If you are not immune and you suspect you may have been exposed, see your doctor
  • A blood test can tell if you have been infected
  • Doctors can also test to see if your child has been affected
  • If your child is affected you will be offered counseling to help you decide what to do next

Group B streptococcus (GBS)

  • Many women have this bacterium in their vagina and it usually causes no symptoms
  • It can be passed to your child during labour
  • In rare cases it can cause a serious infection in newborn children
  • You will be given intravenous antibiotics to protect your child if:
    • your waters break early
    • you are in premature labour
    • you have a fever during labour
    • you are known to have GBS

Genital herpes

  • If you get genital herpes for the first time in pregnancy (primary infection), tell your doctor
  • A drug called acyclovir can help control the symptoms
  • If you have a primary genital herpes infection near your due date, doctors will advise you to have a caesarean
  • This will prevent the disease being transmitted to your child


  • This parasite is found in cat feces and raw or undercooked meat
  • It generally causes mild, flu-like symptoms
  • It can harm your child if you catch it during pregnancy
  • Most of us are immune to it
  • To avoid catching toxoplasmosis in pregnancy:
    • avoid emptying cat litter trays or use disposable rubber gloves
    • wear gloves when gardening in case the soil contains feces
    • only eat well-cooked meat
  • If you think you may have been infected, talk to your doctor
  • They will organize a blood test to check
  • Antibiotics can reduce any harm to your child

Parvovirus (slapped cheek disease)

  • In rare cases, this normally mild childhood disease can cause problems for your unborn child
  • Symptoms include a red rash on the cheeks, hence the name
  • If you think you may have been exposed see your doctor
  • A blood test can tell if you are immune or not
  • Even if you have been exposed, your child will usually be fine


  • The HIV virus can be transmitted to your child during labour and also via breast milk
  • You will be offered a confidential test for the virus in early pregnancy
  • If you are found to have it, doctors can take steps to keep you in good health and reduce the risk of transmission to your child
  • If you are worried or have any health care concerns contact your doctor.