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Infection during pregnancy: A risk factor for cerebral palsy

On Behalf of | Oct 6, 2016 | Pregnancy-Related Injuries

Prenatal health is tremendously important to infant health, and even seemingly minor events may cause great harm to an unborn child in North Adams, such as cerebral palsy. While there are many factors that have a clear connection to the cause of this condition, one is infection.

WebMD states that “developmental brain damage in the fetus” can be caused by many types of infections that are not diagnosed. Additionally, a baby’s nervous system development can also be harmed by some infections. One such infection is called toxoplasmosis, which is contracted from a parasite in meat that has not been fully cooked or in cat feces; a type of herpes virus called cytomegalovirus; or German measles – an infection known as rubella.

Chicken pox, a common health condition that often occurs to school-age children, has also been connected to the development of cerebral palsy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that infections caused by bacteria can cause damage to a baby’s brain. These types of infections include maternal pelvic, fetal membranes and placenta. Brain damage in fetuses have been linked to inflammation that is caused by an increase of cytokines, a classification of proteins. The increase of cytokines in the blood and brain of the fetus is often generated when the mother suffers certain types of infections.

It is recommended that mothers should stay in close contact with their health care providers to ensure that they receive appropriate levels of prenatal care and that they can seek treatment for symptoms of infection, such as fevers or illness. To minimize risk further, the CDC recommends that prior to getting pregnant, women should receive vaccinations for infections that could affect their baby’s brain.