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Screening for Infection in Pregnancy
- Blood test—Your blood is checked for the presence of antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that your body has made to fight an infection.
- Culture—The doctor will gently swab your anus, rectum, and/or vagina, and cervix to see if an infection is present. The culture will either be looked at under a microscope in the office or sent to a lab for testing.
- Ultrasound—A technician will hold a device over the abdomen that bounces sound waves off the uterus and your developing baby. The sound waves make electrical impulses that create a picture of the baby on a video monitor. This helps the doctor check for any fetal abnormalities that might indicate an infection (usually viral) in the mother.
- Urinalysis—This is a test to check for bacteria in the urine. After you urinate into a cup, your healthcare provider will use a specially treated paper strip to check for signs of a bacterial infection in the urine.
- Varicella—Women not immune can be vaccinated before pregnancy. Conception should be postponed for three months.
- Hepatitis B—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all pregnant women be screened for hepatitis B. Untreated infants of infected mothers have about a 50% risk of getting the virus. Prompt immunization and treatment after birth usually can prevent infection in the baby. However, high-risk women, such as healthcare workers, should consider vaccination prior to pregnancy.
- Rubella—If you are not immune, you can be vaccinated before pregnancy. Conception should be postponed for three months after the vaccination.
- Toxoplasmosis—Some healthcare providers screen for immunity to this infection. Unless a woman knows she is immune, she should not eat undercooked or raw meat, or handle cat litter.
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV)—Healthcare and childcare workers may want to be tested for CMV before pregnancy to see if they have had CMV in the past. Routine screening for low-risk women is not recommended. If you already have had CMV, you have little cause for concern during pregnancy.
- Tuberculosis (TB)—If you are from a country that has high rates of TB, you should be screened for this disease.
Apgar BS, Greenberg G, et al. Prevention of group B streptococcal disease in the newborn. Am Fam Physician. 2005;71:903-910. Available at http://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/0301/p903.html.
ACOG practice bulletin. Perinatal viral and parasitic infections. Number 20, September 2000. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2002 76(1):95-107. Reaffirmed 2011.
Bacterial vaginosis - CDC fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/BV/STDFact-Bacterial-Vaginosis.htm. Updated September 1, 2010. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Chorioamnionitis. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://www.clevelandclinic.org/health/health-info/docs/3800/3857.asp?index=12309 . Accessed July 29, 2013.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and congenital CMV infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/cmv/index.html. Updated July 28, 2010. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Group B Strep (GBS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/groupbstrep/index.html. Updated May 23, 2012. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Listeria and pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/listeria.html. Updated June 2011. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Pregnancy and fifth disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/parvovirusB19/pregnancy.html. Updated February 14, 2012. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Schrag SJ, Arnold KE, et al. Prenatal screening for infectious diseases and opportunities for prevention. Obstet Gynecol . 2003;102:753-760.
STDs and pregnancy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/pregnancy/STDFact-Pregnancy.htm. Updated July 10, 2013. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Toxoplasmosis. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/toxoplasmosis.html. Updated January 2011. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Urinary tract infection during pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/utiduringpreg.html. Updated April 2006. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Varicella. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated April 13, 2013. Accessed July 29, 2013.
- Reviewer: Andrea Chisholm, MD; Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 07/2013
- Update Date: 05/11/2013