Most bacteria and viruses will not harm your baby. But unfortunately there are some exceptions.
German measles (rubella) is a viral infection. If you catch it during the first half of your pregnancy and haven't been vaccinated or haven't had German measles before, it can harm your baby. It can sometimes cause miscarriage or deformities affecting the brain, ears or heart.
It is important for women who have not had this illness as children, or been vaccinated, to get vaccinated before they plan to get pregnant.
Toxoplasmosis is an illness caused by a parasite. When you are pregnant you can protect yourself against it by following this advice:
- Avoid any contact with stray cats.
- Cat litter trays should be emptied by someone else.
- Completely avoid eating raw meat.
- Order your meat well done!
- After preparing raw meat, wash your hands.
- Rinse vegetables and fruit and wash your hands after direct contact with soil and wear gloves while gardening.
- Avoid unpasteurised milk.
- Do not skin and handle hares or other animals.
Herpes are sores which can occur around the mouth and genitals and are caused by a virus. Herpes can be transmitted to newborns and is a serious illness for babies. Doctors recommend a caesarean section if herpes occurs for the first time during pregnancy. If the pregnant woman has had herpes before, the newborn is protected by her antibodies.
Group B Streptococci
Group B streptococci are very widespread bacteria. In rare cases they can cause problems during pregnancy in different ways (urinary tract inflammation for the mother, premature birth and serious illness for the baby).
There isn't normally a check for Group B streptococci during pregnancy. But if you've previously been infected by these bacteria, your urine is tested and a sample is taken from your cervix. Group B streptococci are easily treated with penicillin.
Parvovirus (the fifth disease)
This mainly affects children between the ages of 5 and 15. If you've had the illness you will have built up antibodies. The illness is often mild, with a slight fever and a red rash on the cheeks, which disappears within two or three weeks. If you haven’t had the illness and get infected it can present a risk to your child. Talk to your LMC or GP if you’re concerned.