Dr Glenda McLaren
Obstetrician & Gynaecologist
Dr Glenda McLaren
Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

Infections, Immunisations, Medicines & Pregnancy

Infections

If you become unwell with a fever or rash during your pregnancy contact your Doctor.

Chickenpox

Chickenpox or Varicella, is a highly infectious viral infection that is spread by direct contact through coughing and sneezing amongst non-immune individuals. In pregnancy Chickenpox can cause congenital abnormality for the baby and can be a serious infection for the mother casing Pneumonia. Many women are immune to Chickenpox due to having the disease as a child.

If you are unsure as to whether you are immune a simple blood test can determine if you are. Preferably, this should be done before pregnancy, giving the opportunity to have a Varicella vaccine booster prior to pregnancy.

If you are non-immune and come into contact with Chickenpox you should contact your GP or Obstetrician who can arrange an injection Zoster Immune Globulin (ZIG)  within 3 days of exposure to protect you and your baby. For more information.

Chickenpox Varicella Information.

Other Infections

Talk with your Obstetrician for up to date information on Coronavirus in pregnancy.

Read more about Coronavirus during pregnancy at the Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website. 

During pregnancy it is recommended that all pregnant women are screened for Hepatitis B and C. For further information on Hepatitis in pregnancy please see:

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/immunise-hepb

Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is bacteria commonly carried by up to 30% of women in the vagina and is usually harmless in adults. Babies can pick up GBS during a vaginal birth and a small number of babies can develop a GBS infection which can be serious.
There is much debate internationally and nationally regarding the best way to prevent newborn GBS infections. One approach is to screen all pregnant women by taking a swab at 34–36 weeks from the vagina or vagina and anus and to treat all women who screen positive with IV antibiotics in labour. However, this approach can miss up to 5% of women who carry GBS as the culture result takes three days to obtain.
In Queensland a risk based approach has been adopted where IV antibiotics are administered to all women who are at risk of GBS.

Antibiotics are recommended during labour if you:

  • Have a raised temperature (above 38 degrees) during labour
  • Have prolonged ruptured membranes
  • Are in premature labour (before 37 weeks)
  • Have tested positive for GBS during your current pregnancy
  • Have previously had a baby with GBS infection
  • Have tested positive for GBS during a previous pregnancy

More GBS Information.

Listeriosis is caused by eating certain foods contaminated with the Listeria bacteria. Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to infection and it can cause miscarriage and premature labour. There are a number of foods that are best avoided in pregnancy. For further information on Listeria see:

http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/publications/Pages/listeriabrochuretext.aspx

All pregnant women are screened for immunity to Rubella and ideally should have a booster vaccination prior to pregnancy if they are not immune. 

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/immunise-rubella

Parvovirus or Fifth disease, otherwise known as slap cheek disease, is a common childhood illness particularly in young children. In pregnancy it can cause intrauterine growth restriction and a condition called hydrops and can result in stillbirth. If you suspect you have been in contact with someone with parvovirus a blood test will determine if you are immune or at risk of infection.

http://conditions.health.qld.gov.au/HealthCondition/condition/14/217/105/parvovirus-b19

It is recommended that all pregnant women be immunised during pregnancy after 20 weeks to prevent whooping cough

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/immunise-pertussis

Read about CMV from Queensland Health.

There is no clear evidence that HFMD causes any problems with pregnancy or the unborn baby. However, pregnant women may pass the virus to the baby if they are infected shortly before delivery or have symptoms at the time of delivery. Newborns infected with the virus can, very rarely, develop serious and sometimes fatal illness.

Read more about Coxsackie Virus from Queensland Health.

Herpes infection passed on to a newborn baby is a serious condition and is associated with a risk of neonatal death

Read more about Herpes during pregnancy from Queensland Health. 

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii (T.gondii). This parasite occurs commonly throughout the world and infects birds and mammals, including humans. A very small number of unborn babies whose mothers are infectious with Toxoplasma (particularly if it is a first infection during the early stages of the pregnancy) can develop a serious illness. 

Read more about Toxoplasmosis from Queensland Health. 

Pregnancy Immunisations

Flu Vaccine

Seasonal flu can be more severe in pregnancy, so it is recommended that all pregnant women have the flu vaccine to protect them and their unborn baby. The flu vaccine is free for all pregnant women. Please see your GP for your flu vaccination

Whooping Cough

Young babies in the first six months of life are particularly susceptible to whooping cough which can be have very serious consequences. It is recommended that all family members and partners check that they are up to date with their whooping cough vaccinations and pregnant women have the vaccination after 20 weeks.

Read more about Whooping Cough vaccination from the Australian Department of Health.

Rhesus Disease and Anti-D

Your blood group will be checked with your antenatal blood tests and if you have a Rhesus negative blood group it is recommended that Anti D be given and 28 weeks and 34 weeks to prevent Rhesus disease.

Read more about Anti D.

Newborn Immunisations

Vitamin K
A newborn baby is deficient in Vitamin K for the first few days of its life and Vitamin K is needed to make clotting factors in the blood to stop bleeding. This means that a newborn baby is at risk of bleeding for the first few days of life and this risk is significantly reduced by the administration of a Vitamin K at birth.

Read more about Vitamin K from Pregnancy, Birth & Baby. 

All babies are recommended to have immunisations as a part of the National Immunisation Program at birth, 2, 4 and 6 months of age. Read more about the National Immunisation Program Schedule. 

The Brisbane City Council holds immunisation clinics throughout the city of Brisbane and other clinics are available throughout the state or see your GP. Read more about Brisbane Immunisation Clinics.

Medicines and Pregnancy

All medicines have been categorised as to their safety in pregnancy. 

Category A medicines are safe to take throughout your pregnancy. 

Your pharmacist will know what is safe to obtain over the counter for common symptom relief such as sinusitis, cough, fever, headache and pain. Your GP will also know what is safe to prescribe during pregnancy and when breastfeeding.

For more information see Pregnancy and Medications.

Definitions for Prescribing Medicines Australian during Pregnancy:

Drugs which have been taken by a large number of pregnant women and women of childbearing age, without any proven increase in the frequency of malformations, or other direct or indirect harmful effects on the fetus having been observed.

Drugs which have been taken by only a limited number of pregnant women and women of childbearing age, without an increase in the frequency of malformation or other direct or indirect harmful effects on the human fetus having been observed.
Studies in animals have not shown evidence of an increased occurrence of fetal damage.

Drugs which have been taken by only a limited number of pregnant women and women of childbearing age, without an increase in the frequency of malformation or other direct or indirect harmful effects on the human fetus having been observed.
Studies in animals are inadequate or may be lacking, but available data show no evidence of an increased occurrence of fetal damage.

Drugs which have been taken by only a limited number of pregnant women and women of childbearing age, without an increase in the frequency of malformation or other direct or indirect harmful effects on the human fetus having been observed.
Studies in animals have shown evidence of an increased occurrence of fetal damage, the significance of which is considered uncertain in humans.

Drugs which, owing to their pharmacological effects, have caused or may be suspected of causing, harmful effects on the human fetus or neonate without causing malformations. These effects may be reversible.

Drugs which have caused, are suspected to have caused or may be expected to cause, an increased incidence of human fetal malformations or irreversible damage. These drugs may also have adverse pharmacological effects.

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COVID-19 UPDATE

Your health and that of your family are our utmost priority during these unprecedented times.

We ask that you contact 1300HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for advice about testing for COVID-19 if you
• Have arrived from interstate or overseas in the last 14 days or
• Had close contact with someone who has arrived from interstate or overseas;
• Are unwell with a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, shortness of breath or loss or smell or taste;
Have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19