Posts Tagged ‘pregnant women’

An update on the Zika virus – how to protect yourself

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

pregnant womanIt’s all over the news. Here’s what you need to know to about the Zika virus.

Understand Zika

  • If you become infected with Zika during pregnancy, it causes serious problems for your baby. Zika infection during pregnancy causes microcephaly and other serious brain problems. Zika also may be linked to miscarriage, growth problems in the womb, hearing loss and problems with the eyes.
  • You can catch the Zika virus by being bitten by an infected Aedes mosquito. Mosquitos carrying the Zika virus are found in tropical areas, such as the Americas, Southern Asia, Africa and Western pacific. See this map for an up-to-date view of Zika affected areas.
  • You may also get the Zika virus through a blood transfusion or by having sex with a man who is infected with Zika. Zika has been found in semen for at least 2 weeks and possibly up to 10 weeks after getting infected. There have been no reports of women infecting their partners.

According to the CDC:

  • A mother already infected with Zika virus near the time of delivery can pass on the virus to her newborn around the time of birth, but this is rare.
  • Zika virus can be passed from a mother to her fetus during pregnancy. We are studying how Zika affects pregnancies.
  • To date, there are no reports of infants getting Zika virus through breastfeeding. Because of the benefits of breastfeeding, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed even in areas where Zika virus is found.


Most people who have the Zika virus may not have any signs or symptoms. Others may have many symptoms including headache, fever, joint or muscle pain, pink eye, pain behind the eyes, rash and vomiting. If you have traveled to a Zika-affected area and have signs and symptoms, contact your health care provider.

What can you do?

Protect yourself. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant:

  • Don’t travel to a Zika-affected area unless you absolutely must. If you do visit these areas, talk to your health care provider before you travel.
  • Don’t have unprotected sex with a partner who may be infected with Zika or who has recently travelled to a Zika-affected area. If you do have sex, use a condom.
  • If you have plans to travel to an affected area, be sure to check the CDC’s website for advisories.

Take steps to avoid mosquito bites. Use an insect repellent (bug spray) but be sure to follow these tips:

  • Choose one that’s registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (also called EPA). All EPA-registered insect repellents are checked to make sure they’re safe and work well. These sprays contain substances, like DEET, picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus, that are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Carefully follow the instructions on the product label.
  • If you use sunscreen, put sunscreen on first and then the bug spray.
  • Don’t put insect repellent on your skin under clothes.

Learn other important tips for protecting yourself and your family from mosquito bites on our website.

Speak out and tell Congress there’s no time to lose! Urge Congress to pass Zika funding to prevent Zika from gaining a foothold in the U.S.

If you have been exposed to Zika

Contact your health care provider if you have been exposed to Zika. He may test your blood for signs of the virus.

If you have lived in or traveled to a Zika-affected area and have given birth, or if your baby has symptoms of the Zika virus, seek medical attention. Your baby’s provider will follow guidelines for testing and management.

Bottom line

Zika is a very serious virus that causes microcephaly. Read our article for more detailed information, including how Zika spreads, signs and symptoms of the disease, who should get tested, what to do if you travelled to or live in a Zika affected area, and what to do if you think your baby may be affected.

Pregnant? Trying to conceive? See the CDC’s Q/A page on Zika and pregnant women.

Have more questions? Send them to

Updated April 14, 2016


A flu shot during pregnancy can protect you and your baby

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

CDC- pregnant women and flu vaccineIn recognition of CDC’s National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), March of Dimes is participating in a blog relay with a “Focus on the Family” theme for NIVW. Each day, one of CDC’s Digital Ambassadors will leverage the holiday season to encourage their readers to focus on protecting the family. You can follow the NIVW conversation on Twitter using hashtag #NIVW2015.

Did you know that getting the flu shot during pregnancy is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby?

The flu is a serious disease – it can be harmful, especially to pregnant women. Pregnant women who get the flu are more likely than women who don’t get it to have problems such as preterm labor and premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy). Fever caused by flu early in pregnancy can lead to birth defects and other problems in your baby.

When you are pregnant, your body lowers its defenses to germs. This happens so that your body accepts your growing baby. However, with a lowered immune system, you become more likely to get sick from viruses like the flu.

What should you do?

If you are pregnant, get a flu shot (not the flu mist). CDC says it’s safe to get during any stage of pregnancy. A flu shot protects you and your baby from serious health problems during and AFTER pregnancy.

How will it help your baby?

Getting the flu shot during pregnancy helps to protect your baby from flu even after he is born. As a mother, you pass on your immunity to your baby. Some studies have shown that vaccinating a pregnant woman can give her baby antibodies to protect against flu for six months after birth. This means that your baby is protected until he is old enough to receive his own vaccination, at 6 months of age.

Watch this video to learn about flu symptoms and how pregnant women can stay healthy.  If you have questions, talk to your prenatal health care provider or email us at

Remember: CDC says an annual flu vaccination is the best protection against flu. Get your flu vaccine and encourage others to do the same by sharing your flu vaccination selfies on social media using the #VaxWithMe hashtag! Be sure to stop by the other NIVW relay participants’ blogs to learn about the benefits of flu vaccination– tomorrow’s post will be hosted by A Place for Mom and Healtheo360.

Is unpasteurized milk safe?

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

milkRaw milk and milk products from cows, goats, and sheep can transmit life-threatening bacterial infections. In a new policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises pregnant women, infants and children to consume only pasteurized milk, cheese and other milk products, and supports a ban on the sale of raw milk in the U.S.

The policy statement, “Consumption of Raw or UnpasteurizedMilk and Milk Products by Pregnant Women and Children,” published in the January 2014 Pediatrics (released online Dec. 16), reviews evidence of the risks of consuming unpasteurized milk and milk products in the U.S., especially among pregnant women, infants, and children.

“Consumption of raw milk or milk products can result in severe and life-threatening illnesses such as miscarriage and stillbirths in pregnant women, and meningitis and blood-borne infections in both young infants and pregnant women,” said Yvonne Maldonado, MD, FAAP, the lead author of the policy statement. AAP asserts that numerous data show pasteurized milk provides the same nutritional benefits as raw milk, without the risk of deadly infections including Listeria, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Brucella and E. coli.

The AAP supports the position of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other national and international associations in endorsing the consumption of only pasteurized milk and milk products for pregnant women, infants, and children. The AAP also endorses a ban on the sale of raw or unpasteurized milk or milk products in the U.S., including certain raw milk cheeses. For more information, click on this link.

What’s WIC?

Monday, September 17th, 2012

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – better known as the WIC Program – serves to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk.  WIC provides nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating including breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health care.

The WIC target populations are low-income, nutritionally at risk:
• Pregnant women (through pregnancy and up to 6 weeks after birth or after pregnancy ends).
• Breastfeeding women (up to infant’s 1st birthday)
• Nonbreastfeeding postpartum women (up to 6 months after the birth of an infant or after pregnancy ends)
• Infants (up to 1st birthday). WIC serves 53 percent of all infants born in the United States.
• Children up to their 5th birthday.

WIC participants have longer, healthier pregnancies and fewer premature births than those in these categories who do not participate.

If you think you or someone you know may be eligible to receive WIC services or you just want to find out more, visit the WIC website at The WIC Prescreening Tool can be used to determine if you may be eligible for WIC benefits. This Prescreening Tool is not an application for WIC, however. To apply for WIC benefits, you must make an appointment at your WIC local agency and you can find your local agency on the WIC site.