What Is Bacterial Infection And What Are Its Effects On/During Pregnancy?

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Congratulations!! You are going to be a mom soon. With the good news of expecting a child, brings in a series of questions to the would-be-mom for sure. One of the important is how may I keep myself and my baby safe from diseases.

Bacterial infections during pregnancy are one such serious concern, which you need to take care of to ensure good health both for you and your unborn baby. Many times the infection is also passed on to the fetus or the newborn baby during the process of delivery.

The infections affect you via the fertilized ovum during the peripartum period or at the delivery time. The bacterial infections lead to asymptomatic symptoms that make adequate screening as well as absolute clinical awareness quintessential.

[ Read: Gallbladder During Pregnancy ]

Bacterial Infection/Vaginosis Features

Bacterial infection is caused due to excessive bacterial growth that is present within the vagina. It is a clinical syndrome necessitating immediate medical attention.

The features of bacterial vaginosis are:

  • The main organisms associated with this infection are anaerobes and Gardnerella vaginalis1.
  • The etiology of this infection has polymicrobial nature.
  • Its pH is above 4.5.
  • Apart from being asymptomatic, the women with this infection may also suffer from an abnormal discharge from the vagina with fish-like, stinking odor mostly after the intercourse.
  • The vaginal discharge is grey or white and may cause other symptoms such as itching near the vagina or burning sensation during urination.

Effect Of Bacterial Infection During Pregnancy

If you have bacterial infection in early pregnancy, you may have to face more problems during your pregnancy tenure, as well as at the time of delivery as compared to a woman who is not infected.

The effect of bacterial vaginosis on the fetus and the mother are varied and include:

  • Bacterial vaginosis can lead to preterm delivery, miscarriage and inflammation or infection of pelvic immediately after the birth of the child.
  • Although there is no evidence that indicates that a bacterial infection has direct or indirect association with pregnancy problems, general observation shows that unresponsiveness to the tocolytic therapy during the premature labour period is common among infected pregnant women.
  • Experts believe that the infection is passed on to the fetus through placenta and may lead to intrauterine fetal death. 

[ Read: Infection During Pregnancy ]

When Should You Have A Screening?

It is very important to know whether you require a screening or not. Mostly the decision should be based upon the symptoms.

  • If you are suffering from vaginal discharge or if the discharge smells a lot, you should be tested for the bacterial infection.
  • Even if there are no obvious symptoms of bacterial infection, but you have a medical history of vaginal infection, the doctor may advise screening for vaginosis.
  • In cases with no medical history of such infections, the doctor may recommend routine testing.

Diagnosis Of Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial infection is confirmed using Gram strain or clinical criteria. For the clinical criteria, it is important that at least three of the following four conditions be displayed during the test:

  • Presence of non-inflammatory, white and homogenous discharge that coats the Clue cells of the vaginal wall smoothly all over.
  • The pH value of vaginal fluid is more than 4.5
  • The whiff test is positive (the vaginal discharge gives out intense fish-like odour when it is added to 10 percent solution of potassium hydroxide), if the patient is recommended clindamycin or oral metronidazole.

[ Read: Pregnancy And Bladder Infections ]

Treatment for bacterial infection

Different doctors have varying opinion when it comes to recommending treatment for bacterial infection. Here are they:

  • Some believe that apart from topical creams, antibiotics are also important, whereas some doctors prescribe either of the treatment.
  • The effect of antibiotics is also questionable as some reviews suggest that antibiotics are not effective in preventing preterm birth.
  • However, the same review suggests that use of antibiotics reduces the risk of pPROM (preterm premature rupture of membranes) that sometimes lead to preterm birth and also infection.
  • If you have already had an experience of preterm birth, treatment with antibiotics can considerably lower the low birth weight risk.
  • For avoiding the risk to the fetus, mostly oral antibiotics, including clindamycin and metronidazole are recommended.

So, if you are pregnant and suffering from bacterial infection or had a medical history related to it, you should intimate your doctor about it. So that adequate line of treatment is determined to ensure safe delivery of your child.

Already experienced any bacterial infection during pregnancy? Do share your experiences and views.

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