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Keep Babies Safe During Pregnancy

By Dona Perry, MD, Strategic Medical Director, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois

Some infections before and during pregnancy can hurt you — and cause serious illness, birth defects or lifelong disabilities such as hearing loss and learning problems for your baby. The best way to prevent these infections is to see your doctor before you get pregnant.

February is Prenatal Infection Prevention Month, so it’s a good time to review 10 ways you can prevent infections before and during pregnancy. You should discuss each with your OB/GYN.

  1. Protect yourself from the Zika virus by avoiding travel to places where it is prevalent and avoid contact with those who have it.
  2. Don’t forget to wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, touching raw meat or eggs and unwashed vegetables. Wash after preparing food, eating, gardening or touching soil, handling pets or changing diapers.
  3. Avoid contact with saliva and urine from babies and young children because it may have a common virus called cytomegalovirus, which can cause hearing loss in your baby.
  4. Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk and foods made from it, which can contain harmful bacteria.
  5. Do not touch or change dirty cat litter that might contain parasites your pet may have picked up outside.
  6. Stay away from hamsters, guinea pigs and other pet rodents that might carry viruses.
  7. Get tested for sexually transmitted diseases and use protection to reduce exposure to them.
  8. Get the right vaccinations at the right time to help keep your baby from getting seriously ill or developing life-long health problems.
  9. Avoid people who are sick or have infections such as chickenpox or rubella.
  10. Ask your doctor about group B strep and how to protect your baby during labor if you have it.

For information about maternal and infant health, visit our web page

The above material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician. Physicians and other health care providers are encouraged to use their own best medical judgment based upon all available information and the condition of the patient in determining the best course of treatment. 

A Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association