Skip to main content

Infections during pregnancy

It's important to be aware of infections that can harm you or your baby during your pregnancy.

Infections that are routinely tested for during pregnancy include:

  • Gonorrhea - linked to miscarriage, preterm birth and low birth weight. Treatment from early detection reduces the risk of transmission. 
  • Group B streptococcus (GBS) - will be tested for between 35-37 weeks. Your health care provider will use a swab to take cells from your vagina and rectum. In labor, our patients receive intravenous (IV) antibiotics to reduce transmission to the baby.
  • Hepatitis B virus (HBV) - a blood test is done early in prenatal care and if infected, specific treatment is needed to give your newborn, in addition to a routine Hepatitis B vaccine.
  • HIV - a blood test done early in prenatal care. HIV can be passed to your infant during pregnancy, birth, or during breastfeeding.
  • Rubella (also called German measles) - Detection of your immunity to Rubella is done early in prenatal care by a blood test. It is recommended that you get vaccinated prior to becoming pregnant, since Rubella infection during pregnancy can cause problems with pregnancy and birth defects.
  • Syphilis - linked to preterm birth, stillbirth, and other complications in the newborn. You will be tested for this early in prenatal care, and again during the third trimester if considered high risk.

There are infections you may be tested for if you have symptoms or have possibly been exposed.pregnancy exam

  • Chlamydia- this sexually transmitted disease (STD) may increase your risk of preterm birth and its complications. Your provider will test you for this infection if you have been exposed to (your partner has it), or are at high risk of exposure.
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV) - a common virus present in many body fluids, but usually does not cause health problems. You may not know you have this infection, but if passed to your fetus, can cause health problems or disabilities.
  • Fifth disease- is a common childhood virus that is easily spread person to person. If infected, pregnant moms usually have no problems, but if passed to the fetus, miscarriage can occur or your fetus could develop anemia.  Good handwashing is important to reduce your chances of getting this infection.
  • Genital herpes - late in pregnancy infection has a high risk of infecting your fetus. Herpes infections in newborns are serious and life-threatening.  If you have had genital herpes in the past, your provider may prescribe medications to help reduce your risk of outbreak and passing the infection to your fetus.
  • Hepatitis C virus (HCV)- a common chronic infection that may be passed to your fetus during pregnancy. Newborns will be tested for HCV if their mother has this infection.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) - If you are pregnant and have HPV, you can get genital warts or develop abnormal cell changes on your cervix. Abnormal cell changes can be found with routine cervical cancer screening. You should get routine cervical cancer screening even when you are pregnant.
  • Listeria (listeriosis)- this serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with a certain type of bacteria can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, or life-threatening infection of the newborn. These foods are associated with listeria:  improperly reheated hot dogs, luncheon meats, deli-style meats; unpasteurized (raw) milk and soft cheeses made with raw milk; smoked seafood and salads made in the store such as ham, chicken, or seafood salads; raw vegetables.  For more information, visit:
  • Toxoplasmosis- is a disease caused by a parasite that may be present in cat feces or used cat litter. You can decrease your risk of exposure by having someone else empty and clean the litter box and wearing gloves while gardening.
  • Trichomoniasis- your health care provider will prescribe treatment for you if you have this infection. Infection in pregnancy has been linked to premature rupture of membranes, preterm birth, and low birth weight infants.

Zika virus

  • Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and can cause a birth defect called microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects.
  • Zika mainly spreads through infected mosquitos, but you can also get Zika from having sex without a condom with someone who is infected (even if that person has no symptoms of Zika).
  • There is NO VACCINE to prevent or medicine to treat Zika.
  • You should not travel to areas with risk of Zika, and take steps to prevent mosquito bites. Always use condoms when having sex with someone who may have Zika, or has traveled in an area with risk of Zika.