NYACK, N.Y. -- For expecting mothers, staying healthy is an important part of any pregnancy. In addition to eating well and avoiding certain activities, being aware of prenatal infections that can harm the health of a baby is critically important.
According to the experts at Nyack Hospital, CMV is one common virus that can affect prenatal health. Spread through contact with an infected person’s body fluid, “most healthy people don’t realize that they are infected with CMV,” said Karen Bergstein, certified nurse midwife at The Prenatal Center at Nyack Hospital. In most babies born with CMV, the virus does not cause health problems. However, in some cases, the virus can cause microcephaly, a birth defect in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected. Women can lower their risk of contracting CMV by washing their hands frequently, not sharing food and avoiding kissing those under 6 years old on the mouth or cheek.
Another dangerous prenatal disease is Listeria, which is caused by eating vegetables, meat and dairy contaminated with the Listeria bacterium. The infection can result in miscarriage, premature delivery, serious infection in the newborn or stillbirth. Although infections are treated with antibiotics, to prevent Listeria mothers should practice safe food handling and avoid eating cold cuts and soft cheeses like brie, feta or blue.
Although Zika virus is not new, it has garnered significant media attention and has been linked to microcephaly in babies born to women infected with the virus. Zika is passed through a bite from an infected mosquito, and possibly through body fluids from an infected person. Currently, there is no treatment for Zika. “We still don’t know the risk her fetus will be affected if a woman is infected during pregnancy,” said Bergstein. "Pregnant woman should avoid getting mosquito bites by using insect repellant, wearing long sleeves, long pants and socks, and avoiding going outside when mosquitoes are more active."
“A healthy lifestyle will go a long way in preventing prenatal infections,” said Bergstein. “It’s all about education and appropriate screening." At Nyack Hospital’s Prenatal Center, physicians, midwives, registered nurses and a nutritionist work together to teach moms-to-be how to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy family.
To contact the Nyack Hospital Prenatal Center, call 845-348-2550.