Screening for Infection in Pregnancy

Screening helps find health problems early so you can get treated. It is given to people who do not have signs, but who may be at high risk.

The Tests

You will get tests as part of your routine care. They can help your doctor know if you are at risk. Tests you may have are:

  • Blood test—Your blood is checked for proteins that fight infection.
  • Culture—The doctor will gently wipe your genitals to see if group B strep or a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is there. It will be looked at in the office or sent to a lab.
  • Ultrasound —A technician will hold a tool over the belly that bounces sound waves off the womb and your growing baby. The sound waves make a picture of the baby on a screen. This helps the doctor check for any problems with the baby that might be a sign of an infection in the mother.
  • Urine analysis—This is a test to check for bacteria. Your doctor will use a special paper strip to check for it.
  • If you are at high risk you may be screened for certain infections.

The Guidelines

Pregnant women should be screened for STIs on their first doctor visit to look for:

In some cases, your doctor will also screen you for other health problems.

All pregnant women should be screened for Group B streptococcal disease (GBS) at 35-37 weeks. If you have it, you will be given medicine during labor.

Pre-pregnancy Checkup

This health exam can help you avoid infection and raise the chances of having a healthy baby. Your healthcare provider will ask about your health history, past pregnancies, and lifestyle. You can ask questions and talk about any worries you may have, such as whether work or hobbies put you at risk for health problems.

Blood tests measure immunity to certain infections. If you have it, you cannot get the infection again. If you do not have it, you may be able to get a shot to protect yourself. You can be checked for:

  • Chickenpox—Women can be vaccinated before pregnancy. Conception should be postponed for three months.
  • Hepatitis B—All pregnant women should be screened. Getting immunized and treated right after birth can prevent infection in the baby. High-risk women, such as healthcare workers, should consider vaccination before getting pregnant.
  • Rubella—If you are not immune, you can be vaccinated before you get pregnant. Conception should be postponed for three months after the shot.
  • Toxoplasmosis—Some healthcare providers screen for immunity to this infection. Unless a woman knows she is immune, she should not eat undercooked or raw meat, or handle cat litter.
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV)—Healthcare and childcare workers may want to be tested before pregnancy. Routine testing for low-risk women is not needed. If you have had CMV, you have little cause to worry during pregnancy.
  • Tuberculosis (TB)—If you are from a country that has high rates of TB, you should be screened for this disease.
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References:

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Bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at:
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Updated August 2015. Accessed August 13, 2018.
Chickenpox. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116084/Chickenpox. Updated June 25, 2018. Accessed August 13, 2018.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and congenital CMV infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
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Updated June 6, 2018. Accessed August 13, 2018.
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Updated May 29, 2018. Accessed August 13, 2018.
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Updated November 17, 2017. August 13, 2018.
Routine prenatal care. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dyname.... Updated March 17, 2017.
Schrag SJ, Arnold KE, Mohle-Boetani JC, et al. Prenatal screening for infectious diseases and opportunities for prevention. Obstet Gynecol. 2003;102(4):753-760.
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Updated October 6, 2017. Accessed August 13, 2018.
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Updated March 10, 2017. Accessed August 13 ,2018.
Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 8/13/2018

 

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