When you are pregnant, your entire world changes in a lot of ways. You will be told to avoid certain foods, to take prenatal vitamins, to avoid drinking or smoking: the usual roundup. You may also be told to avoid certain kinds of medications, because they could have a harmful effect on the baby. For many women, this means you have to suffer through a cold or a headache without any medicine to help you, but for others it can lead to a serious injury for the child.
That is because certain infections in the mother can cause brain damage in the child, especially if they are left undiagnosed and untreated. The more dangerous maternal infections include:
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as herpes, syphilis and HPV
- Chicken pox
- Kidney infections, such as pyelonephritis
- Urinary tract infections
- Bladder infections such as cystitis
- Yeast infections
- Chorioamnionitis, a rare but serious bacterial infection
- Group Strep B
A study out of Denmark also found that women who experience genitourinary system infections (which includes your urinary system and your reproductive organs) during pregnancy are more likely to have children born with epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Preeclampsia, while not an infection, can also cause permanent brain damage if it leads to oxygen deprivation while the child is in utero.
The importance of regular checkups
Some of the infections we discussed here can be treated with antibiotics, though the mother should be carefully monitored while taking the medications. Attending regular checkups, and reporting any problems you experience, are key to helping your doctor make a correct diagnosis quickly. If caught in time, both mother and child will likely recover without many (or any) ill effects.
However, if a doctor fails to diagnose you with an infection, or misdiagnoses you with the wrong infection, the results could be far more severe. Both the mother and child could be seriously injured, especially if there are complications during the labor and delivery process. In the most tragic of circumstances, the child could die if the infection is allowed to spread without treatment. Because failing to diagnose or to treat an infection could be grounds for a medical malpractice case in Washington, D.C. or in West Virginia, you may be able to obtain compensation that can help you care for your child after a mistake has been made that led to a permanent injury or brain damage.