Can an Infection During Pregnancy Cause a Birth Injury?

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Some common infections during pregnancy can cause serious birth injuries to newborns if left untreated.

Routine monitoring and regular checkups play an important role during pregnancy, helping to protect the health of both mother and baby. Unfortunately, there are a variety of different infections pregnant mothers can contract which can be transmitted to infants via the placenta or during labor and delivery. When these infections are left undiagnosed and untreated, it could cause your unborn child to develop serious birth injuries. The following are some of the most common pregnancy infections, the effects they can have on your child, and the symptoms for which you need to be alert.

Pregnancy Infections That can Result in Birth Injuries

Birth injuries involve any type of trauma or medical condition that jeopardizes your child’s health. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as one out of every 33 babies born in the United States suffers some type of birth injury or birth defect, which can be life-threatening or result in permanent impairment.

Among the most common cause of birth injuries is infections contracted by the mother either before or during pregnancy. These can transfer to your baby during pregnancy or labor and delivery. Infections that can pose a risk to you and your child’s health include:

  • Viral Respiratory Infections: Cytomegalovirus (CMV), parvovirus, varicella (chickenpox), and rubella are viruses which can cause fever, nausea, body aches, rashes, and difficulty breathing. In addition to resulting in miscarriage and anemia during early pregnancy, these can result in deafness, heart failure, and other serious conditions in your unborn child.
  • Bacterial Infections: During pregnancy, bacterial infections such as group B streptococcal disease, listeria, and salmonella can result in miscarriage, premature birth, infant deformity, and death. Be alert for symptoms that may include stomach cramps, fever, and vomiting.
  • Chorioamnionitis: Caused by infections such as E. coli and group B streptococcus, this is an infection of the placental membranes and amniotic fluid. Symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, and vaginal discharge, and it can lead to premature birth and dangerous blood infections.
  • Toxoplasmosis: This is a common pregnancy infection caused by exposure to microscopic parasites, often through exposure to undercooked meat and pet feces. With symptoms that include fever and muscle pain or weakness, it can cause devastating physical and mental defects in infants.  
  • Sexually transmitted diseases: The herpes simplex virus can be passed to your child during labor and delivery, while diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea can result in miscarriage, severe birth defects, and infant death.  

When Pregnancy Infections Result in Birth Injuries

In addition to the pain and heartbreak birth injuries cause you and your family, the costs associated with ongoing medical care can be devastating financially. In many cases, doctors can be held accountable for failing to diagnose and treat pregnancy infections before they harm you or your child. To find out what rights you have in terms of filing a claim, consult with an experienced birth injury attorney.