Hepatitis– It is a viral infection which causes malfunctioning of the liver. The most common form of this infection is Hepatitis B which causes jaundice during pregnancy. There are several types of hepatitis viruses including types A, B, C, D, E, and possibly G. There are a few important things to keep in mind about this infection during pregnancy.
• Common symptoms of Hepatitis are fatigue, dark urine, pale stool, abdominal pain, weight loss. A routine blood test or evaluation of bilirubin can be conducted to confirm the infection.
• This virus can be transmitted through the exchange of body fluids, using needles of an infected person and from a mother to her baby if the mother is not on medication. If the mother is on medication during and after her pregnancy the chances of the baby being infected are rare.
• There can be some complications during delivery like premature deliver, low birth weight or bleeding during the third trimester. These can be prevented and managed by a doctor.
• If the mother is tested positive for Hepatitis the chances of the baby being infected can be reduced by vaccinating the baby. Depending on the severity of infection, if the viral load is high then the mother is administered some medicines by the doctor during and after pregnancy. These medications help the mother to keep healthy and reduce the risk of passing on the infection to the baby.
• It is safe for a mother to breast feed the baby if the mother is on medication.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)/ AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)- HIV causes AIDS, a viral infection that makes the body weak and susceptible to infections and other life-threatening diseases. If a mother is HIV-positive she can reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to the baby by keeping herself healthy and taking medication pre and post delivery.
• Just like Hepatitis, HIV is transmitted through infected blood transfusion, saliva, semen or vaginal fluid exchange. A person can also be infected if these fluids come in contact with broken or cut skin or mucus membrane. Proper anti -HIV medication during pregnancy can reduce the risk of mother to child transmission.
• If this infection is not treated, it can be passed on to the baby during pregnancy, vaginal childbirth or through breast feeding. In most cases, a C- section is performed to reduce the risk of infecting the baby during delivery. Most mothers are advised against breast feeding the baby for more than 6 months.
• There are specific medications that need to be administered to the mother during and after pregnancy. Babies of HIV-positive mothers are given medication after birth to decrease the risk of infection.
Medication and a healthy diet can significantly reduce the chances of infecting the baby in both cases.