Home Health Pass on a healthy life

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Don’t let your little one inherit certain diseases from you. Precaution and caution is the key. – By Dr Rajeev Nayyar
Pregnant women are susceptible to the same sexually transmitted diseases (STD) as the general population. STDs can have severe harmful effects on pregnant woman as well as the baby which may be permanently disabling and even life-threatening. Since many STDs may be silent, it is necessary to screen a pregnant woman for STDs, including HIV, so that they can be treated and the harmful effects to the woman and her baby can be minimised. Some tips for pass on a healthy life. Additionally, sexual partners of affected women should also be tested and treated.

HIV
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) by destroying the blood cells required to fight infections and diseases. HIV can be transmitted to the baby during pregnancy, labour and delivery and even during breastfeeding. However, the risk can be reduced (to less than two per cent) if timely treatment is administered to the expecting mother. Therefore, HIV screening is recommended for all pregnant women.

Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that affects the liver. The infection is transmitted by the blood as well as sexually. It can be passed on by a pregnant woman to her baby, putting the infected newborn at a higher risk of becoming a chronic Hepatitis B carrier. The condition also increases the chances of the baby developing chronic liver diseases or liver cancer later in life. The worse part is that about 25 per cent of infants with chronic Hepatitis B infection will ultimately die of chronic liver disease. Thus, screening of pregnant women for Hepatitis B is essential and the infants at risk should be treated immediately.

Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C infection can be passed from an infected mother to the child during pregnancy. Ideally, the chances of transfer of infection are 10 per cent, but it increases in women who are also infected with HIV. However, regular testing of pregnant women for Hepatitis C virus is not recommended and should be considered for only those who have risk factors known to be linked to it.

Syphilis
If a pregnant woman is suffering from Syphilis, it may give rise to stillbirth, preterm labour and even death of the infant shortly after its birth. In addition, the infection can be passed on to the baby and effect the functioning of several organs such as the brain, eyes, ears, heart, skin, teeth and bones. The effects on the organs are generally permanent and can disable the child. Screening for syphilis is, therefore, recommended in all pregnant women during their first antenatal visit and also in high risk women. It should be repeated in the third trimester.

Chlamydia
Chlamydia is the most common STD. Although a majority of people suffering from it do not show symptoms, pregnant women may have abnormal vaginal discharge, bleeding after sex and itching or burning while urinating. Untreated chlamydial infection has been linked to preterm labour, premature rupture of the membranes and infants born with low birth weight. Moreover, the newborn may also become infected during delivery, leading to eye and lung infections. Therefore, all pregnant women should be tested for chlamydia on their first prenatal visit. The test should be repeated in the third trimester.

Gonorrhea
Untreated gonococcal infection during pregnancy has been linked to miscarriages, premature birth, low birth weight and premature rupture of the membranes. Gonorrhea can also infect the infant during delivery, causing eye infections in him. As the infection can cause troubles for both the mother and the baby, it is important to timely identify the infection, treat it with effective antibiotics and closely follow up to make sure that it has been cured.

Trichomoniasis
Vaginal infection caused by the parasite Trichomonas Vaginalis is a common STD. Symptoms can vary from no symptoms to itching, foul odour, discharge, and bleeding after sex. Pregnant women are not usually screened for this infection. However, those having abnormal vaginal discharge should be evaluated and treated appropriately. Infection in pregnancy has been linked to premature rupture of the membranes, preterm birth, and babies born with low birth weight. A female newborn has rare chances of encountering the infection during delivery.

Herpes Simplex Virus
The symptoms of genital herpes are similar in a pregnant and a non-pregnant women. These typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or the mouth. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take two to four weeks to heal. However, genital herpes infection can lead to miscarriage or premature birth in pregnant women. Herpes infection can be passed on from the mother to the child, resulting in a potentially fatal infection. A newbon usually catches the infection when he passes through the mother’s infected birth canal during delivery. A woman with genital herpes can be offered antiviral medication from 36 weeks gestation through the delivery to reduce the risk of an outbreak. Caesarean section is recommended for women in with active genital herpes lesions.

Human Papillomavirus
Human papillomaviruses cause genital warts which may first appear or increase in number and size during pregnancy. They usually appear as small cauliflower-like clusters which may burn or itch. In cases where there are large warts that are blocking the birth canal, a Caesarean section may be recommended. The infection in the mother can lead to development of laryngeal papillomatosis in the newborn.

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