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Infections, viruses and vaccinations

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Infections and viruses

Chicken pox

CChicken pox is caused by the varicella zoster virus. Chicken pox is highly infectious and can be dangerous to your baby. If you had chicken pox as a child, it is likely that you are immune; you do not need to worry. If you are unsure whether you have had chicken pox before, you may be offered a blood test to confirm your immunity. If you think you may have come into contact with someone with chicken pox and you know that you are not immune, please phone your GP or midwife for advice. Do not attend the maternity unit for advice unless advised to by your midwife/doctor. More details about chicken pox here.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

STIs such as chlamydia, herpes and gonorrhoea are becoming increasingly common and when left untreated in pregnancy can be dangerous to your baby. If you are concerned that you or your partner may have been exposed to STIs please attend your local sexual health service clinic for full sexual health screening. More information about STIs here.

Parvovirus B19 (slapped cheek syndrome)

Parvovirus is very infectious and usually affects children. The main symptom is a red blotchy rash on the face. It can also be accompanied by mild fever, headache and sore throat. If you contract parvovirus in pregnancy it can be harmful to your baby. Please speak to your GP or Midwife if you think you may have been in contact with parvovirus. More information about parvovirus here.


Toxoplasmosis is an infection caught by direct contact with cat faeces (poo), contaminated soil or contaminated meat. Most people don’t realise they have it, but it can cause flu like symptoms and it can harm your unborn baby. Pregnant women are advised to wear gloves when gardening or handling cat litter and to thoroughly wash fruit and vegetables to remove all traces of soil. We don’t test for toxoplasmosis routinely as it is very rare. More details about toxoplasmosis here.

Group B Streptococcus (GBS)

GBS is a transient bacterial infection, commonly found in the gut, occasionally spreading to the vaginal and rectal tract. GBS causes no symptoms and is harmless to adults. It can however be harmful to babies of infected mothers if they are born vaginally. GBS can be detected via urine tests or by taking swabs of vaginal and rectal mucosa. GBS is notroutinely tested for in pregnancy, however if it is detected or if you have been infected with GBS in the past, it will be recommended that you have intravenous antibiotics in labour, to protect your baby from infection.

More details about GBS here:


It is currently recommended that all pregnant women have flu and whooping cough vaccinations during pregnancy. Ask your midwife or GP about this early in pregnancy.

Flu vaccine

The flu vaccine is available in winter every year and is safe at every stage of pregnancy. The flu vaccine is recommended because catching flu when pregnant can cause serious complications for both you and your baby.

Whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine

The whooping cough vaccine is recommended for all pregnant women and can be given from 20-32 weeks. Whooping cough can cause pneumonia and brain damage in young babies but having a booster vaccine will help protect your baby.

Travel vaccinations

If you are travelling to countries that require specific vaccinations please speak to your practice nurse. Some vaccines that use live bacteria or viruses are not recommended during pregnancy because of concerns they could harm the baby in the womb. Inactivated vaccines are safe in pregnancy.

More information on vaccinations available here.

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