Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Syphilis

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

This year the theme of  National Birth Defects Prevention Month is Prevent to Protect. This week we will be posting a series of guest posts from MotherToBaby’s Kirstie Perrotta, MPH, Lorrie Harris-Sagaribay, MPH, Robert Felix and Susan Sherman of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) Zika Task Force. Each day they will respond to one of the top five questions they receive about preventable infectious diseases and what you can do to prevent exposure during pregnancy.

“It’s 2018! I didn’t even know you could get syphilis nowadays!” Yes, I mentioned the stats about syphilis and other infections that can affect pregnancy to the caller who had contacted me through our free MotherToBaby helpline. I thought, this is a great time to educate her as well as others about a variety of infections. Some infections, like Zika, seem to make headlines every week, while others tend to be discussed much less frequently. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and this year’s focus is on infection prevention.

I just found out I have syphilis and my doctor recommended medication to treat it, but I’m worried the medication will hurt the baby. What should I do?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria that can be treated and cured with antibiotics. Learning that you have syphilis when you are pregnant is frightening, but the earlier you treat the infection, the better the outcome for you and your baby.

The syphilis bacteria can spread to the baby during pregnancy (called congenital syphilis or CS). CS can cause stillbirth, prematurity, or other pregnancy problems, including birth defects of the bones, the brain and other body systems. If you are diagnosed with syphilis during pregnancy, be sure to talk with your baby’s pediatrician since a baby might develop symptoms of CS even after being born.

The medications that are used to treat syphilis have been around for many years and are well studied. While there is always the possibility of side effects with any medication, the antibiotics used to treat syphilis during pregnancy are very well tolerated by most women.

The MotherToBaby website contains fact sheets on many of the medications doctors prescribe during pregnancy. If you still have concerns about the medication your doctor has prescribed to treat your syphilis, you can review the fact sheet and contact a MotherToBaby specialist at 866-626-6847.

Other posts in the series:

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Zika

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Listeria

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Toxoplasmosis

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

About MotherToBaby 

MotherToBabyis a service of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), suggested resources by many agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have questions about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding, please call MotherToBaby toll-FREE at 866-626-6847 or try out MotherToBaby’s new text information service by texting questions to (855) 999-3525. You can also visit MotherToBaby.org to browse a library of fact sheets about dozens of viruses, medications, vaccines, alcohol, diseases, or other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding or connect with all of our resources by downloading the new MotherToBaby free app, available on Android and iOS markets.

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Toxoplasmosis

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

This year the theme of  National Birth Defects Prevention Month is Prevent to Protect. This week we will be posting a series of guest posts from MotherToBaby’s Kirstie Perrotta, MPH, Lorrie Harris-Sagaribay, MPH, Robert Felix and Susan Sherman of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) Zika Task Force. Each day they will respond to one of the top five questions they receive about preventable infectious diseases and what you can do to prevent exposure during pregnancy.

“It’s 2018! I didn’t even know you could get syphilis nowadays!” Yes, I mentioned the stats about syphilis and other infections that can affect pregnancy to the caller who had contacted me through our free MotherToBaby helpline. I thought, this is a great time to educate her as well as others about a variety of infections. Some infections, like Zika, seem to make headlines every week, while others tend to be discussed much less frequently. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and this year’s focus is on infection prevention.

I didn’t find out I was pregnant until 12 weeks, and I’ve been changing my cat’s litter box this whole time. Am I at risk for toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis infection is caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. You can get it from handling cat feces or soil, or eating undercooked, infected meat that contains the parasite. Eating raw eggs or drinking unpasteurized milk are also possible sources.

Most adults with toxoplasmosis don’t have symptoms, but some have symptoms similar to the flu or mononucleosis, with swelling of the lymph nodes, fever, headache or muscle pain. In most cases, once a person gets toxoplasmosis, they cannot get it again. If a woman has an active toxoplasmosis infection during pregnancy, it can pass to the developing baby (called congenital toxoplasmosis infection). Not every infected baby will have problems, but the infection could cause a variety of developmental problems for the infant.

Up to 85% of pregnant women in the U.S. are at risk for toxoplasmosis infection. Generally, women who have recently acquired a cat or care for an outdoor cat may be at an increased risk for toxoplasmosis. Ask yourself: Have you ever been diagnosed with toxoplasmosis? How long have you had your cat? Is your cat indoor only, outdoor only, or both? Do you feed the cat raw meat? Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns and want to learn more about a blood test that can determine if you have ever had toxoplasmosis.

To avoid future infection, here are some precautions you can take: (1) wash your hands carefully after handling raw meat fruit, vegetables, and soil; (2) do not touch cat feces, or else wear gloves and immediately wash your hands afterwards if you must change the cat litter; (3) wash all fruits and vegetables; peeling fruits and vegetables can also help reduce risk of exposure; (4) cook meat until it is no longer pink and the juices run clear; and (5) do not feed your cat raw meat.

Other posts in the series:

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Zika

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Listeria

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Syphilis

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

About MotherToBaby 

MotherToBabyis a service of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), suggested resources by many agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have questions about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding, please call MotherToBaby toll-FREE at 866-626-6847 or try out MotherToBaby’s new text information service by texting questions to (855) 999-3525. You can also visit MotherToBaby.org to browse a library of fact sheets about dozens of viruses, medications, vaccines, alcohol, diseases, or other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding or connect with all of our resources by downloading the new MotherToBaby free app, available on Android and iOS markets.

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Listeria

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

This year the theme of  National Birth Defects Prevention Month is Prevent to Protect. This week we will be posting a series of guest posts from MotherToBaby’s Kirstie Perrotta, MPH, Lorrie Harris-Sagaribay, MPH, Robert Felix and Susan Sherman of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) Zika Task Force. Each day they will respond to one of the top five questions they receive about preventable infectious diseases and what you can do to prevent exposure during pregnancy.

“It’s 2018! I didn’t even know you could get syphilis nowadays!” Yes, I mentioned the stats about syphilis and other infections that can affect pregnancy to the caller who had contacted me through our free MotherToBaby helpline. I thought, this is a great time to educate her as well as others about a variety of infections. Some infections, like Zika, seem to make headlines every week, while others tend to be discussed much less frequently. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and this year’s focus is on infection prevention.

I just ate unpasteurized cheese and I’m worried I have Listeria. What symptoms should I watch for? Do I need to be tested?

Eating unpasteurized cheese does put you at risk for a Listeria infection (called listeriosis). So during your pregnancy it’s important to avoid unpasteurized cheeses and other foods made with unpasteurized milk. The US Food and Drug Administration has developed additional food safety guidelines specific to pregnancy.

While listeriosis has not been found to cause birth defects, it can increase the risk for miscarriage, preterm delivery, and still birth. It also increases the risk of infection in newborns which can result in very serious long-term complications for baby.

Not everyone who is infected with Listeria will have symptoms, but some will have mild to severe symptoms that appear a few days or even weeks after eating contaminated food. Symptoms of a Listeria infection to watch for may include: diarrhea, fever, muscle aches, joint pain, headache, backache, chills, sore throat, swollen glands, and sensitivity to light.

Since not everyone has symptoms, it is important to be tested if you think you might have listeriosis. Your health care provider can order a simple blood test to confirm a Listeria infection. Treatment will reduce the risks of infection for you and your baby.

Other posts in the series:

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Zika

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Toxoplasmosis

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Syphilis

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

About MotherToBaby 

MotherToBabyis a service of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), suggested resources by many agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have questions about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding, please call MotherToBaby toll-FREE at 866-626-6847 or try out MotherToBaby’s new text information service by texting questions to (855) 999-3525. You can also visit MotherToBaby.org to browse a library of fact sheets about dozens of viruses, medications, vaccines, alcohol, diseases, or other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding or connect with all of our resources by downloading the new MotherToBaby free app, available on Android and iOS markets.

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Zika

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

This year the theme of  National Birth Defects Prevention Month is Prevent to Protect. This week we will be posting a series of guest posts from MotherToBaby’s Kirstie Perrotta, MPH, Lorrie Harris-Sagaribay, MPH, Robert Felix and Susan Sherman of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) Zika Task Force. Each day they will respond to one of the top five questions they receive about preventable infectious diseases and what you can do to prevent exposure during pregnancy.

“It’s 2018! I didn’t even know you could get syphilis nowadays!” Yes, I mentioned the stats about syphilis and other infections that can affect pregnancy to the caller who had contacted me through our free MotherToBaby helpline. I thought, this is a great time to educate her as well as others about a variety of infections. Some infections, like Zika, seem to make headlines every week, while others tend to be discussed much less frequently. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and this year’s focus is on infection prevention.

One of our most common Zika questions comes from couples who have just returned home after a tropical vacation: How long do we need to wait to get pregnant after returning from a country with Zika, and what should we do in the meantime to minimize risk? Can we be tested?

Many countries continue to see active transmission of Zika virus from infected mosquitoes. If a woman is infected with Zika during pregnancy, it can increase the risk of microcephaly (small head and brain) and other severe brain defects. It may also cause eye defects, hearing loss, seizures, and problems with the joints and limb movement. That’s why it’s so important for couples who are planning a pregnancy to make sure the virus is completely out of their bodies before they attempt to conceive.

So, how long do couples need to wait? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women who travel to a country with Zika wait at least two months before attempting to get pregnant. If a male partner travels, the CDC recommends waiting six months. Some callers ask, “Why so long? We’re ready to get pregnant now!” Although the virus is expected to leave most people’s blood in about two weeks, this could vary depending on a number of factors including their own immunity. The CDC considers 2 months to be a long enough wait time for women. As for men? Zika has been found in the semen for up to 6 months after a man is first infected. The six-month wait time ensures that men do not pass the virus to their partners during intercourse if it is still present in their semen.

Practicing safe sex is important during these wait times! Since Zika can spread through sexual contact, using condoms or dental dams is recommended every time a couple has intercourse. Don’t want to use protection? 100% abstinence is another option. These safe sex precautions significantly reduce the risk of transferring the virus from one partner to another during these important wait times.

Couples who want to get pregnant right away will often ask, “Instead of waiting, isn’t there a way my doctor can just test me for the virus?” Unfortunately, the answer to that question is not so simple. The CDC does not recommend testing as a way to know if it’s “safe” to get pregnant. For one reason, the virus could have already left your blood, but could still be hanging out in other areas of the body (like semen). In this case, you could get a negative blood test result, but still have the virus. Second, no test is 100% accurate. There’s always a chance that your result could be a false negative, especially if you are tested too soon or too late after returning home from a country with Zika.

So, the bottom line? It’s a waiting game. Couples should follow the CDC’s official recommendations to make sure their pregnancy has the healthiest start possible. Still have questions or concerns about Zika? Check out Zika Central on MotherToBaby.org or call us at 866-626-6847 to speak with a specialist who can assess your specific exposure.

Other posts in the series:

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Listeria

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Toxoplasmosis

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Syphilis

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

About MotherToBaby 

MotherToBabyis a service of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), suggested resources by many agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have questions about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding, please call MotherToBaby toll-FREE at 866-626-6847 or try out MotherToBaby’s new text information service by texting questions to (855) 999-3525. You can also visit MotherToBaby.org to browse a library of fact sheets about dozens of viruses, medications, vaccines, alcohol, diseases, or other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding or connect with all of our resources by downloading the new MotherToBaby free app, available on Android and iOS markets.

Worried about the flu?

Friday, January 19th, 2018

By now you’ve probably heard that flu activity is widespread throughout the United States. If you’re pregnant or have a baby, here’s some information that may help during this flu season.

Signs and symptoms of the flu

Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:

  • Cough or sore throat
  • Feeling very tired
  • Fever, chills, or body shakes
  • Headaches
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Not being hungry
  • Vomiting (throwing up) and diarrhea (more common in children)

Fever and most other symptoms can last a week or longer. Some people can be sick from the flu for a long time, including children, people older than 65, pregnant women and women who have recently had a baby.

Treating the flu

If you think you or anyone in your family may have the flu, call your health care provider right away. She may prescribe an antiviral medicine to prevent or treat the flu. Antivirals kill infections caused by viruses. They can make the flu milder and help you feel better faster. Antivirals also can help prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia. For flu, antivirals work best if you take them within 2 days of having symptoms.

If you’re pregnant and have a fever, call your provider as soon as possible and take acetaminophen.

If your baby has a fever, ask her provider if you can give her infant’s or children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Protect yourself and others from the flu

When you have the flu, you can spread it to others. Here’s what you can do to help prevent it from spreading:

  • Stay home when sick and limit contact with others.
  • Don’t kiss anyone.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or into your arm. Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before touching anyone. You also can use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Use enough hand sanitizer so that it takes at least 15 seconds for your hands to dry.
  • Use hot, soapy water or a dishwasher to wash your dishes and utensils.
  • Don’t share your dishes, glasses, utensils or toothbrush.

Is it too late to get a flu shot?

No it’s not too late! You can still get a flu shot. Getting a flu shot is safe for most pregnant women and it can help prevent you from getting the flu. The flu shot may make your symptoms milder and prevent complications if you do get sick. You can get the shot from your health care provider or pharmacies. Use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find out where you can get the flu vaccine.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Are you getting your daily folic acid dose? Check the label

Monday, January 8th, 2018

Folic acid is a B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for normal growth and development. It helps your body make red blood cells that carry oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body. If you take folic acid before and during early pregnancy, it can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects (also called NTDs). Some studies show that it also may help prevent heart defects in a baby and birth defects in a baby’s mouth called cleft lip and palate.

How can you be sure you’re getting the right amount of folic acid?

The best way to get the right amount of folic acid is to take a daily multivitamin that has 400 mcg of folic acid. Check the back of your bottle for the label (also called supplement facts). Look for the word “folate” on the label to see how much folic acid you’re getting.

The label tells you this information:

• Serving size. This tells you how much of the product is in one serving. One multivitamin usually is one serving.

• Servings per container. This tells you how many servings are in a multivitamin bottle. For example, if two pills is one serving and the bottle has 30 multivitamins in it, that’s 15 servings.

• Nutrients, like vitamin D, folate and calcium, in each serving

• Daily value (also called DV) of one serving. DV is the amount of a nutrient in a serving. For example, if the DV of folic acid in a multivitamin is 50 percent, that multivitamin gives you 50 percent (half) of the folic acid you need each day.

What else do I need to know about the labels?

Multivitamin labels now give new information about folic acid. In the past, they just listed mcg of folic acid. Now they list “mcg DFE of folate.” For example, for folate you’ll see “400 mcg DFE.” DFE stands for dietary folate equivalent. It’s the amount of folate your body absorbs. If a serving has less than 400 mcg DFE of folate, you need more than one serving to get all the folic acid you need each day.

Can I get folic acid from food?

Some foods have folic acid added to them. Look for the word “fortified” or “enriched” on the package label on foods like:
• Bread
• Breakfast cereal
• Cornmeal
• Flour
• Pasta
• Products made from a kind of flour called corn masa, like tortillas, tortilla chips, taco shells, tamales and pupusas
• White rice

Some fruits and vegetables are good sources of folic acid. When folic acid is naturally in a food, it’s called folate. Folate is found in lentils, black beans, peanuts, leafy green veggies like romaine lettuce and spinach, citrus fruits and orange juice.

It’s hard to get all the folic acid you need from food. Even if you eat foods that have folic acid in them, take your multivitamin each day, too. Labels on food products don’t always list the amount of folic acid in the product. New food labels that list folic acid will list mcg DFE of folate, just like for multivitamins.

Read more about why folic acid is important to you and your baby.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Good hygiene can help prevent birth defects

Friday, January 5th, 2018

Now that winter has arrived, the temperatures are decreasing and the spread of germs is increasing. In an effort to stay healthy, I find myself constantly washing my hands and trying to maintain good hygiene. Hygiene refers to activities such as hand washing, bathing, and brushing your teeth, which help you stay healthy. Maintaining good hygiene is one of the best ways to help prevent the spread of infections.

Women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by doing things to help reduce the risk of infection. Not all birth defects can be prevented, but by maintaining healthy hygiene, you can help prevent the spread of infection. Not sure where to start? We have tips:

Wash your hands

And wash them often. Wash them before preparing or eating food, after handling raw meat, raw eggs or unwashed vegetables. Wash them after being around pets or animals and after changing diapers or wiping runny noses.

Prepare food safely

Besides your hands, you should also wash all fruits and vegetables before preparing your food. Wash all surfaces and cuttings boards with warm soapy water after use as well. Separate raw meat and poultry from cooked or ready-to-eat foods. Be sure to cook foods at their proper temperature and never eat cooked food that has been out of the refrigerator longer than two hours. Ready to cook a meal? We have your guide from prep to storage.

Don’t share cups, foods or utensils with your children

Keep these items out of your mouth. Children’s saliva may contain cytomegalovirus or CMV, a kind of herpesvirus that women can pass to their baby during pregnancy. CMV can cause problems for some babies, including a birth defect called microcephaly. CMV is also found in urine and other bodily fluids so be sure to wash your hands every time after changing diapers, wiping runny noses, and picking up toys.

Stay away from wild or pet rodents

This includes mice, hamsters and guinea pigs. They may carry a virus called lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (also called LCMV) that can be harmful to you and your baby. LCMV can cause severe birth defects and miscarriage. To help prevent LCMV, keep pet rodents in a separate part of your home, wash your hands after petting and caring for them. Ask your partner or a friend to care for the pet and clean its cage. If your home has wild rats or mice, use pest control.

Let someone else clean the litter box

Dirty cat litter might contain a harmful parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis. If you have toxoplasmosis within 6 months of getting pregnant, you may be able to pass it to your baby during pregnancy. Toxoplasmosis can cause pregnancy complications such as preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks) and stillbirth. The earlier in pregnancy you get infected, the more serious the baby’s problems may be after birth.

So have a friend, partner or family member clean your cat’s litter box during your pregnancy. If you are changing the litter yourself, be sure to wear gloves and wash your hands well afterward. You can also come in contact with the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis through eating raw or undercooked meat, unwashed fruits and veggies, touching utensils and cutting boards used to prepare raw meat, fruits and veggies or by touching dirt or sand. So we recommend avoiding sand boxes as well.

Practicing good hygiene daily can help you stay healthy and prevent the spread of infection.  Have questions? Email us at mailto:AskUs@marchofdimes.org

Prevent infections to protect your baby

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

January is Birth Defects Prevention month. Birth defects affect 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States each year. This means that a baby is born with a birth defect about every 4 ½ minutes. Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth and can cause problems in overall health, in how the body develops or works. Some infections before and during pregnancy can have serious consequences, including causing certain birth defects. Not all birth defects can be prevented. But there are some things that you can do before and during pregnancy to protect yourself and your baby.

Practice good hygiene

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often.
  • Take precautions when preparing food.
  • Make sure to wash hands after changing diapers or wiping runny noses. Don’t share cups or utensils with young children.
  • Stay away from wild or pet rodents, live poultry, lizards, and turtles.
  • Do not clean a cat litter box during pregnancy.

Talk to your health care provider     

  • Talk to your provider about what you can do to prevent infections, such as Zika.
  • Discuss how to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
  • Make sure you are getting the right amount of folic acid. Most women should be taking 400mcg of folic acid before pregnancy.

Get vaccinated

  • Your provider can make sure that you are up to date on all your routine adult vaccinations before you get pregnant.
  • The CDC recommends two vaccinations during pregnancy: the flu shot and the pertussis vaccine (Tdap) at 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. Pertussis (also called whooping cough) is an extremely contagious disease that causes violent coughing and is dangerous for a baby. Pregnant women should get a dose of Tdap during every pregnancy, to protect their baby.

Prevent insect bites

  • Take precautions to protect yourself from animals known to carry diseases and insects that may carry infections, such as Zika.
  • Avoid travel to Zika-affected areas. Be sure to discuss any travel plans with your provider.
  • When mosquitoes are active, prevent mosquito bites using an EPA-registered bug spray containing one of these ingredients: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol or IR3535.
  • Wear appropriate clothing when outside, such as a hat, long-sleeved shirt, pants, shoes, & socks.
  • Don’t have sex with a male or female partner who may be infected with Zika virus or who has recently traveled to a Zika-affected area.

And don’t forget that there are many other steps that you can take to get ready for a healthy pregnancy:

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Cheers! with alcohol-free alternatives

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Tis the holiday season, and often that means lots of parties and gatherings, usually involving alcohol. But if you are pregnant or trying to conceive, you need to steer clear of alcoholic beverages. No amount of alcohol has been proven safe at any time during pregnancy. However, here are some delicious substitutions.

One of the easiest drink alternatives is simply mixing a fruit juice with seltzer water. If you use cranberry or pomegranate juice, you’ll have a “mocktail” with a festive red color. Add a twist of lime, and serve it in a martini glass or champagne flute. This is one of my favorite drinks every day. You can really play around with this basic recipe, changing juices and garnishes to your specific taste—and cravings.

Also, there are so many flavored seltzers available that you can have a lot of fun mixing and matching juices and seltzers to create some really unique combinations. If you freeze the fruit juice in ice cube trays, you can then add them to your favorite flavored seltzer. The combinations are really endless. And when it is time to ring in the New Year, ginger ale or sparkling cider make great alternatives to a glass of champagne. You can read our past post on Bodacious Beverages for some more great recipes.

Although alcohol may not be on the menu this holiday season, you can still share a toast with family and friends. Cheers!

What is twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome?

Friday, December 15th, 2017

Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is a serious condition that occurs in about 10-15% of identical twin pregnancies where the babies share a placenta (monochorionic).

In TTTS, the blood vessels in the placenta form abnormal connections and blood does not flow evenly between the babies. One twin becomes a “donor” and the other becomes a “recipient.” The donor twin pumps blood to the recipient twin. This means that the recipient twin is bigger, has more blood, and makes more urine. This results in too much amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios) and an enlarged bladder. The extra fluid can also strain the recipient twin’s heart. However, the donor twin is smaller, has less blood, little to no amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios), and a smaller bladder.

How do you know if your twins have TTTS?

TTTS is usually found during an ultrasound in the second trimester. Once TTTS is identified, your health care providers will evaluate how serious the TTTS is. They will look at how much amniotic fluid is in each sac, how the donor twin’s bladder is working, and they will look at blood flow in both babies. They may also do an amniocentesis and echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the baby’s heart) if needed.

What treatment is available for TTTS during pregnancy?

The treatment plan will depend on how severe the condition is. Options for treatment include:

  • Monitoring with regular ultrasounds: Monitoring allows your providers to regularly check on your twins and look for any signs that TTTS is getting worse.
  • Removing amniotic fluid from the recipient twin: Extra amniotic fluid is removed from the larger (recipient) twin. This is only a temporary option and may need to be repeated.
  • Laser surgery (known as selective fetoscopic laser photocoagulation or SFLP): This procedure uses a laser to stop the transfer of blood between the babies. It is often the

Without treatment TTTS can cause serious problems for both babies. So it is important that you go to all of your prenatal checkups—even when you’re feeling fine. Twins with mild to moderate TTTS may be at increased risk for premature birth.

Have questions? Email AskUs@marchofdimes.org