Thursday, March 23, 2017

Moms and viruses and babies! Oh My!

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) just released a report reaffirming the importance of prenatal testing of pregnant women for infectious diseases like HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B, and rubella. Although procedures are in place to try to stop vertical transmission of these illnesses, there are a persistent number of babies born with seemingly preventable illnesses every year in the EU/ EAA. For example, babies are still reported as being born with congenital syphilis (bacterial but still serious) in many countries.

The report was released to reaffirm standards that are proven effective, like testing for syphilis, HIV,  and Hep B during the first trimester; repeat testing after this first trimester for women at higher risk for these illnesses; testing at delivery if a woman has not yet been tested; and considering a universal approach where patients “opt out”, rather than “opt in” for testing.

Although some illnesses like Rubella can’t be prevented if the woman is already pregnant, more dialogue could make it more likely that she’ll be sure to be vaccinated or otherwise immune before getting pregnant.

The report also identified particular risk groups like recent immigrants and sex workers, and urged healthcare providers to be better at going the extra mile, breaking down cultural and social walls, and explaining to their patients why prenatal screenings are essential to the health of their newborn.

Elisa Hofmeister ‘18

See here for more:

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). (2017, March 21). Antenatal screening in Europe: How to avoid mother-to-child transmission of infections: How to improve the uptake of antenatal testing among vulnerable groups like migrant women or women at higher risk for infections. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 24, 2017 from

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