More serious infections that may affect your pregnancy and birth.

The following infections can affect your pregnancy:

Genital Herpes

A Caesarean section is advised if there is genital herpes in the vagina or vulva at the time of birth. An active infection of genital herpes can have severe repercussions for the baby including brain damage, blindness and death, though very few babies become infected.


This sexually transmitted disease can infect the baby during birth. The baby can then be treated with drugs.

Hepatitis C

It is thought that babies are more likely to get Hepatitis C if their mums are infected in the third trimester.


Pregnant women with HIV do not always pass on the infection to their babies. You may be advised to have a Caesarean section to avoid blood contact during childbirth. Mothers with HIV must not breastfeed as this increases the chance of transmission.

Hyperthermia or Overheating

A temperature higher than 39C for a prolonged period can be damaging to the developing baby, particularly in the first three months. When exercising, be careful not to become overheated. Your baby’s temperature is always slightly higher than your own though it is unable to sweat.


The bacterium listeria monocytogenes causes the illness listeriosis, considered serious as it can be transferred to the foetus and at worst can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth. Sometimes listeriosis has no symptoms though often it manifests as flu-like with symptoms such as fever, headache, vomiting and diarrhoea or more serious symptoms such as meningitis or blood poisoning.

Listeria grows in the fridge. Do not eat foods that have been stored in the fridge for more than 12 hours. In other words, avoid left-overs and eat only freshly cooked or prepared food. Do not eat food that is past its use-by date. If you are in doubt, throw it out.

Avoid high risk foods including:

  • Pate
  • Smoked seafood
  • Soft or gourmet cheeses such as ricotta, Camembert, cottage, blue vein, Danish blue, Stilton
  • Unpasteurised cheeses
  • Soft serve icecream
  • Cold cooked chicken
  • Cold meats
  • Store bought salads
  • Salads prepared more than 12 hours ago
  • Raw seafood including sashimi, sushi and oysters


Also called German measles, rubella can cause abnormalities in babies, particularly in the first trimester. It has been known to cause blindness and deafness. It is advisable to check with your doctor that you have been vaccinated. If you are given a shot, you must then wait two months before conceiving.


Salmonella can cause food poisoning and gastroenteritis. Infection can be traced to meat, eggs, chicken and fish. The major symptoms are vomiting and diarrhoea, shivering and fever. If the infection progresses to the bloodstream, antibiotics are prescribed. Otherwise a fluid-only diet is prescribed.


A sexually transmitted disease, syphilis can cross the placenta and cause premature birth or stillbirth. It is less common these days and can be detected and safely treated in early pregnancy. If a baby is infected during birth, the baby can then be cured with drugs.


Humans can contract this parasitic disease by eating uncooked or under-cooked meats, unpasteurised goat, cow and sheep products, or by coming into contact with the faeces of dogs and cats or kittens. If it crosses the placenta during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, it can cause blindness in the baby. Few people show symptoms though sometimes a rash, fever, enlarged lymph nodes and glands may be evident.

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