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Prevent to protect: Preventing Infections for baby's Protection

Every 4½ minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States. We know that not all birth defects can be prevented. But, we also know that women can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before and during pregnancy. Some infections before and during pregnancy can hurt both you and your baby. They can cause birth defects and lifelong disabilities, such as hearing loss or learning problems. You can reduce your risk of getting an infection during pregnancy to help protect your baby by following these recommendations

Properly prepare food.

  • Wash your hands before and after preparing food
  • Do not eat raw or runny eggs or raw sprouts
  • Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheese, and other foods made from them

Talk to your healthcare provider.

  • Talk to your healthcare provider about what you can do to prevent infections such as Zika virus.
  • Make sure that you are up-to-date with vaccinations (shots) before getting pregnant.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about vaccinations that you should receive during pregnancy.

Protect yourself from animals and insects known to carry diseases such as Zika virus.

  • Stay away from wild or pet rodents, live poultry, lizards and turtles, and do not clean cat litter boxes while pregnant.
  • When mosquitoes and ticks are active, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outside.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus (para-menthane-3,8-diol).

Maintain good hygiene.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially
    • Before preparing or eating foods
    • After handling raw meat, raw eggs, or unwashed vegetables
    • After being around or touching pets and other animals
    • After changing diapers or wiping runny noses
    • Do not put a young child’s food, utensils, drinking cups, or pacifiers in your mouth

If you have questions about exposures or ways to prevent infection during pregnancy, you can talk to a teratogen information specialist about your specific situation and medications by visiting MotherToBaby.org, call us at 801-328-2229, or send a text at 855-999-3525. You may also contact the Utah Birth Defect Network at 866-818-7096 or health.utah.gov/birthdefect

Prevent to Protect handout