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  • Writer's pictureDhanaxi

Infectious Diseases During Pregnancy

Updated: Jun 5

Pregnant woman standing and holding her abdomen, concerned about pregnancy-related illnesses caused by bacteria and viruses
Pregnancy Concerns: Illnesses from Bacteria and Viruses – Pregnant Woman Holding Abdomen


Everybody encounters bacteria and viruses in their lifetime.

The signs of Infectious Diseases During Pregnancy that can cause pregnancy issues are discussed on this page, along with what to do if you're concerned.


Varicella - Chickenpox during Pregnancy:

  • Seeking early advice is crucial if chickenpox is suspected during pregnancy, as it can pose a risk to both the mother and the baby.

  • There is a 90% probability of being immune to contracting chickenpox. However, if you have never had chickenpox (or are not sure if you have or not) and come into contact with an adult or child with chickenpox, it is best to get in touch with a doctor right away.  A simple blood test will determine if you have developed antibodies.

  • When a woman has chickenpox in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, there is a 1 in 50 chance of the baby developing some birth defects. This is called the congenital varicella syndrome.

  • Congenital varicella syndrome can lead to severe birth defects, including hypoplasia of an extremity, microcephaly, skin and ocular abnormalities, intellectual disability, and low birth weight. Do not be alarmed – be aware, and if in doubt, better to err on the side of caution


CMV during Pregnancy

  • The common virus known as CMV (cytomegalovirus) belongs to the herpes group and is also responsible for chickenpox and cold sores. Early childhood CMV infections are not uncommon.

  • Pregnancy-related infections can provide a risk since they can result in issues for the fetus, including epilepsy, learning disabilities, visual impairment or blindness, and hearing loss.

  • If the expectant mother has never had CMV previously, there is an increased risk of infection for the unborn child.

Although preventing a CMV infection isn't always achievable, you can lower your risk by:

  • Avoid kissing small children on the face and wash your hands frequently with soap and hot water, especially if you have been changing diapers or work in a nursery or daycare facility. Give them a hug or a kiss on the head instead of giving little children food or silverware, and avoid sharing glasses with them.


  • This is especially crucial if your line of work involves frequent interaction with young children. In this situation, you can find out if you have ever had CMV infection by getting a blood test.





A common infection, toxoplasmosis can be contracted by contaminated meat or from the excrement of unwell cats. Although it's mostly benign, some people may experience severe issues from it.


Some individuals may experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headaches, sore throat, aches throughout the body, swollen glands and fatigue.


Usually harmless, there is a slim chance that the illness could result in the following if you contract toxoplasmosis for the first time when you are pregnant or a few months before you conceive:


Miscarriage, stillbirth, birth abnormalities, or postpartum issues are extremely uncommon.

Usually, you won't have any overt symptoms yourself.


It is believed that there is very little possibility of contracting toxoplasmosis for the first time when pregnant.  Pregnancy does not always indicate that the unborn child is in risk, even if you do contract an infection for the first time. The newborn is often not affected by the infection.


Rubella (German measles)


Rubella infection during the first four months of pregnancy can cause major complications, such as a miscarriage and birth abnormalities.


Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) is the most serious form of rubella. It happens when a pregnant person passes rubella to the fetus. This can cause skin, hearing, vision, heart and brain problems in newborns.


If you are pregnant, get in touch with your doctor right away if you have signs of rubella,  have a rash or come into contact with someone who does.  In these conditions, it is unlikely that you have rubella, but a blood test may be necessary to confirm.


If you are uncertain about receiving two doses of the MMR vaccine, you might want to review your medical history. 


When you go for your 6-week postnatal checkup following the birth, you should ask for the vaccination if you have not received both doses or if there is no record. This will protect you in your future pregnancies.


One cannot receive the MMR vaccination when pregnant.




If you contract the Zika virus while pregnant, it might result in birth abnormalities. Specifically, it may result in microcephaly or an abnormally tiny head in the baby.


In the UK, zika does not naturally occur. If you want to visit an afflicted location, get travel health advice before your journey, such as:


Americas in the South or Central

Southeast Asia, the Pacific (including Fiji) and the Caribbean

It is advised that you delay non-essential travel to high-risk places while you are pregnant.


Additionally, it is advised that you refrain from becoming pregnant for three months after visiting countries in the mentioned locations.



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