Hepatitis B and pregnancy

HEPATITIS B PHOTOThe fact that 350 million people worldwide are affected by Hepatitis B is a reason enough for any pregnant woman to be concerned about the disease.

Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis B virus. It is passed from person to person in body fluids, such as blood, semen or vaginal fluids

According to Center for Disease Control (CDC), when a person becomes infected, the Hepatitis B virus can stay in the person’s body for the rest of his or her life and cause serious liver problems.

A hepatitis B infection should not cause any problems for you or your unborn baby during your pregnancy but the virus can be passed on to your newborn baby during delivery. When babies become infected with Hepatitis B, they have a 90% chance of developing a lifelong, chronic infection. According to CDC, as many as 1 in 4 people with chronic Hepatitis B develop serious health problems which include liver damage, liver disease, and liver cancer.

It is important therefore for a pregnant woman to find out if she has the disease because according to Baby Center, she may likely to:

  • Have premature birth
  • Have low birth weight
  • Develop gestational diabetes
  • Experience heavy bleeding during late pregnancy

Attending antenatal is crucial because doctors conduct a series of blood tests that check the level of hepatitis B virus in your blood. If the virus is detected, then you will be referred to further tests and treatment.

Since it is possible for a woman with hepatitis B to pass the virus to her baby at birth, it is crucial for the woman to give birth at a health facility with the help of a skilled birth attendant because doctors can prevent a baby from getting hepatitis B by giving them 2 shots within 12 hours of birth. The first dose is that of the Hepatitis B vaccine and the other shot is called Hepatitis B Immune Globulin (HBIG). HBIG is a medicine that gives a baby’s body a “boost” or extra help to fight the virus as soon as he or she is born. The HBIG shot is only given to babies of mothers who have Hepatitis B.

One important thing to note is that it is safe to breastfeed your baby as long as he/ she is having the vaccinations.

Source: Center for Disease Control, Baby Center and Hepatitis B Foundation

Dangerous infections to watch out for during pregnancy…Part 1

pregnant rubella

Information is power so they say. When you are pregnant, you MUST arm yourself with the right information so that you and your little sunshine remain healthy during and after the 9 months journey.

An infection or illness can be frightening and more serious while you’re pregnant.
Here’s a list of some of the infections you should watch out for during pregnancy:

  • Rubella (German measles)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Chickenpox
  • Genital herpes
  • Herpes
  • Listeriosis
  • Thrush
  • Toxoplasmosis

I will ‘chew’ and summarize these infections for you in the subsequent posts. Today let me focus on Rubella.

What is Rubella?

Rubella, sometimes called German measles or three-day measles, is a contagious disease caused by a virus transmitted by coughs and sneezes. The infection is usually mild with fever and rash.

The most common rubella symptoms include:

  • A mild temperature
  • Sore, infected eyes
  • Cold like symptoms such as running nose and sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes around the back of your neck

It is important to note that up to half of people don’t get any symptoms of rubella so they will not know that they’ve had it.

Although rubella is a relatively mild illness for you, it is very dangerous for your unborn baby. The risks are highest if you get rubella during your first 11 weeks of pregnancy, as it can lead to miscarriage.

According to Baby Center, rubella infection during your first three months of pregnancy may also cause your baby to develop congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). This means your little one could develop:

  • Deaf-blindness
  • Eye defects such as cataracts
  • Heart defects
  • Mental retardation
  • Low growth
  • A very small head also called microcephaly
  • Liver and spleen damage (at least a 20% chance of damage to the fetus if a woman is infected early in pregnancy)

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for rubella infection! I know the question in your mind now is: what can I do to prevent rubella while I am pregnant?

If you are already pregnant and do not know if you are protected against rubella, avoid people who have had a rash for less than a week. Also, ask your doctor to test you to see if you are protected against rubella.

If you aren’t sure if you had a rubella vaccine, you should have a blood test before you get pregnant. The test will tell you if you are protected against rubella. If a blood test shows you are not protected against rubella, you should get the Measles, Mump, Rubella (MMR) combination vaccine right away the wait for at least one month before you start trying to get pregnant. Note that you cannot get this vaccine when you are pregnant because the vaccination contains a live virus, which could cause rubella infection in the baby.

According to Center for Disease Control, children should get 2 doses of Measles, Mump Rubella (MMR) combination vaccine: the first dose should be at 12-15 months of age while the second dose at 4-6 years of age. Though these are the recommended ages, children can get the second dose at any age, as long as it is at least 28 days after the first dose.

Watch out for the subsequent post on other diseases and infections to beware of during pregnancy. Hope you have enjoyed the read and  learnt something as well.

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