International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month is held every February to raise awareness of diseases that a mother can pass on to her baby.
Prenatal infections can take many forms. They are bacterial or viral diseases transmitted from a mother to her child during pregnancy or childbirth. Sometimes these infections are harmless, but in some cases, unfortunately, they can have devastating consequences leading to the death of the fetus or child. They can cause premature birth, low birth weight, blindness, deafness, mental disability, or cerebral palsy.
In 2016, approximately 2.6 million babies died in the first month of life from prenatal infections. Another 700,000 newborns die each year from other infections. Even though mainly in the Western world, the incidence of prenatal infections is decreasing, it is still a fundamental problem that needs our maximum attention.
How can we prevent prenatal infections? Vaccination still ranks first in the prevention of their transmission:
a) Before pregnancy
Even before the start of pregnancy, women should ensure they have received all the recommended vaccinations, which are not suitable for administration during pregnancy. These are often vaccines given during childhood and whose protection lasts until adulthood, such as vaccinations against polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, or chicken pox.
b) During pregnancy
During pregnancy, regardless of trimester, women are strongly advised to get vaccinated against the flu, which increases the risk of preterm birth. At the same time, doctors recommend getting diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough vaccination. Newborns are too small for these vaccinations; this way, they already acquire antibodies during pregnancy.
c) After pregnancy
Even after birth, vaccination remains beneficial for both mother and newborn. Vaccines protect the mother from diseases to which she could also expose her child in case of infection.
We can only be successful in the fight against prenatal infections if physicians across different specialties cooperate and if patients are correctly informed about the suitability of vaccinations at different stages of pregnancy.
Therefore, do not hesitate to contact your physician and find out about prenatal care, immunization, and proper nutrition. These precautions can increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy and baby.
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