Infectious diseases during pregnancy

German measles

  • German measles is a highly contagious viral infection, occurring most often between the ages of 5 and 9 years.
  • 94% of pregnant women are protected by antibodies they produced during their childhood after contracting the virus or after being vaccinated.
  • Pregnant women who are not immunised may catch German measles and transmit it to the baby through the placenta, causing risks of deformity.
  • Symptoms of German measles are mainly: fever, headache, rash on the neck and face.
  • The diagnosis of German measles is difficult, as symptoms of this infection may resemble other viral diseases. Therefore, Rubella can go completely unnoticed.
  • Although Rubella is a mild illness, if caught when pregnant it can cause fetal damage in up to 90% of cases during the first trimester with the risk of fetal damage reducing to 10 - 20% by 16 weeks.

You will be tested for antibodies on your first antenatal visit, but it is advisable to be checked before conceiving so you can be vaccinated if no antibodies are found.

CMV, cytomegalovirus

It is a member of the herpes virus family. Pregnant mothers with young children or working in schools are most affected by the CMV virus. This virus is passed on through bodily fluids, e.g. contact with saliva or the urine of infants. About 50% of pregnant women are found to have antibodies to CMV and between 1 and 6% of women become infected during pregnancy with 40% of fetuses affected.
  • The virus can cause a miscarriage in the first three months of pregnancy.
  • It can be transmitted to the fetus and cause deafness, mental retardation, liver damage, growth retardation, or malformations.
  • Symptoms of CMV are similar to those of a normal virus like flu, with fever, headaches, body aches.
  • A mother who has already contracted CMV before her pregnancy is immune to most cases.
  • 80% of fetuses infected during pregnancy will have no after-effect.

More information :

Screening for the CMV virus

Screening is not routine in the UK as it not possible to determine which pregnancies will result in an infected fetus.

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