The moment a woman finds out that she is pregnant, she should begin to take great care of herself for the well-being of the fetus growing inside of her. She should take steps to improve her overall health and avoid anything that might cause harm to the baby.
For starters, the mom-to-be should schedule monthly appointments at a clinic for the doctor or nurse to help monitor her pregnancy. The OB-GYN will probably prescribe pregnancy vitamins, which she should take alongside meals during the entire pregnancy; they normally assist in the proper development of a fetus. Expecting moms can also take additional supplements depending on their deficiencies.
It is also vital for pregnant women to eat well during the nine months. They should ensure that they eat balanced meals and are encouraged to eat meals—as well as a snack in between—and drink plenty of healthy fluids. However, they should refrain from eating unhealthy foods and foods people consider having the potential to harm the unborn baby such as unpasteurized dairy, raw eggs, raw meats, high mercury fish, and caffeine.
Apart from these foods, moms should also avoid harmful substances such as chemicals and litter. Most of these can easily get to the baby when a soon-to-be mom eats them, and have adverse side effects to the baby some of which can last a lifetime. Therefore, it is important for expectant moms to watch what they come into contact with. If they are not careful, their babies can develop some of the conditions listed below.
20 Fetal Varicella Syndrome: Chickenpox
Fetal Varicella syndrome is another rare condition that unborn babies get when their mothers are not careful. It causes limb defects, scars, and central nervous system abnormalities in unborn babies. Fetal varicella syndrome result from the varicella-zoster virus commonly known as chickenpox.
According to stanfordchildrens.com, unborn babies usually contract this condition during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Women who have never gotten chickenpox or been vaccinated are more at risk of exposing their little ones to this syndrome. It is important for them to avoid contact with people who have chickenpox and those planning to have babies should go for vaccination before they get pregnant.
19 Toxoplasmosis: Parasite Found In Kitty litter
Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. Most individuals who contract this parasite do not develop any severe symptoms; however, they may experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, and headaches. Toxoplasmosis can get to pregnant women when handling cat litter and the soil where cats defecate. Other carriers include uncooked meats.
According to Tommy's, toxoplasmosis can cause serious effects to the fetus at any time of the pregnancy. An infection caught later in pregnancy is more likely to spread to the baby faster. Toxoplasmosis causes loss of pregnancies and serious issues with the brain and other organs. It can particularly affect the baby’s eyes and cause blindness.
18 Microcephaly: Smaller Than Normal Head Shape
Microcephaly is a condition that occurs when moms encounter harmful substances like radiations and hazardous chemicals. It can also develop when a woman has severe malnutrition during the first three months of pregnancy. Sometimes it is also associated with genetic problems. Unborn babies with microcephaly usually develop much smaller heads than normal.
Other symptoms of microcephaly include developmental delays, seizures, and intellectual disabilities. Pregnant women should avoid exposing themselves to any kind of radiation while pregnant. There is no treatment for microcephaly, which can grow a baby’s head to the normal size or shape, as pointed out by stanfordchildrens.com. Unborn babies that come into contact with the Zika virus can also get microcephaly.
17 Spina Bifida: An Abnormally Formed Spine
Although none of these conditions is in the least bit pleasant for anyone, most parents dread learning that their babies will be born with a spinal defect of whatever nature. Spina bifida, as the name suggests, is a condition where babies are born with an abnormally formed spine (backbone). This condition develops in an unborn baby towards the end of the first month of pregnancy, because a baby's spine starts developing at that time.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, this condition can result from a range of genetic, environmental, and nutritional factors. However, research indicates that a lack of or insufficient intake of folic acid is a major contributor to this condition. Pregnant women need to take their prenatal meds as soon as they discover they're expecting, otherwise, they will be unnecessarily risking their babies' health.
16 Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR): Babies Born Tiny
IUGR is a condition that causes Small for Gestational Age (SGA), a term used to describe babies born smaller than usual. These babies are born with low birth pounds in comparison to other babies born during the same gestational period. Although there are babies who are genetically small in stature, IUGR babies are small and are lacking in physical and neurological maturity.
According to stanfordchildrens.com, unborn babies usually contract IUGR when they do not receive the necessary nutrients and oxygen needed for growth while in the womb. Therefore, if pregnant women are not careful with their meal, their unborn babies can contract IUGR. Other likely causes include infections, smoking, and substance use.
15 SIDS: Unexplained Loss Of A Child
SIDS is the sudden and unexplained loss of a baby before reaching the first year of life. According to the CDC, pregnant women who are into different vices may have their unborn babies easily become victims of SIDS. Doing such things during pregnancy is harmful to a baby; it can cause preterm birth, low birth size, brain complications, gastrointestinal problems, abnormal limbs, and sometimes cleft lips and palates.
Some pregnant women normally substitute for devices like vapes, but they also contain harsh chemicals, which is equally harmful. Doctors advise women intent on carrying pregnancies to quit before they conceive. It is usually hard but they need to do it to protect the health of their baby.
14 Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS): Risks To Baby From A Mother's Vices
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is a group of conditions babies can get after birth when trying to withdraw from what their moms were using while they were in the womb. Pregnant women who use place their babies at high risk of getting NAS.
Other risks associated include premature births, stillbirths, seizures, birth defects, developmental problems, and low birth size, as stated by stanfordchildren.com. Although this will depend on what she has taken. This condition can affect children for up to four or six months after birth. Doctors can prescribe some meds to treat discomforts associated with withdrawal.
13 Group B Streptococcus (GBS): A Bad Infection
Group B streptococcus is a bacterial infection found in the urinary and reproductive tracts and can get to the baby during birth. GBS usually does not have any major symptoms, which is why pregnant women may not even know that they have it, however most hospitals like performing a GBS test.
It is important for moms with GBS to get treatment prior to giving birth because babies with GBS can develop serious problems like meningitis, sepsis, or pneumonia, as kidshealth.com points out. Doctors use intravenous (IV) antibiotics to get rid of the GBS bacteria during labor. Preterm labor increases the chances of the baby getting this infection.
12 Listeria: Bacteria Found In Contaminated Food
Listeria is a serious infection that is the result of eating food contaminated with bacteria called listeriosis. According to ACOG, listeriosis thrives in foods like unpasteurized milk and cheese, raw and undercooked seafood, eggs, meat, poultry, and smoked meats. These bacteria can cause lifelong health problems to the unborn baby like infections of the body fluids and brain.
Listeriosis also causes the loss of fetuses, stillbirths, or preterm labor. Its symptoms include fever, diarrhea, stomach upset, muscle aches and confusion. Most of the time, listeriosis is treated immediately, using antibiotics to prevent the fetus from being infected. Pregnant women should always handle raw meats carefully.
11 Anencephaly: When The Skull Does Not Develop Properly
Anencephaly is a type of a neural tube defect. Neural tube defects are conditions of the brain, spine and spinal cord, as stated by medlineplus.com. Unborn babies are prone to these defects if mothers are not keen on taking their folic acid during pregnancy. These defects usually occur in the first month of pregnancy.
Unborn babies are prone to anencephaly if their moms do not take good care of themselves. When most of the brain and skull do not develop properly, a baby has this condition. Expectant women should take folic acid before and during pregnancy, doing this reduces the baby’s risk of getting neural tube defects to almost nil.
10 Low Birth Size: Born Less Than Five Pounds
Low birth size is a condition used to describe babies born lighter than five pounds and eight ounces. If pregnant moms are not careful with their daily caffeine intake amount, they can give birth to babies with this condition. Pregnant women should take a maximum of 200mg of coffee per day, anything above that increases the chances of pregnancy loss and low birth sizes, according to HealthLine.
Babies with low birth sizes are at the risk of developing complications. They usually have a hard time gaining more pounds, feeding, and fighting infections and because they have little body mass, they are not able to keep themselves warm even in normal temperatures. They are at risk of developing breathing issues, SIDS, and neurologic as well as gastrointestinal problems
9 Maternal Hyperthermia: Cardiovascular Issues In Newborns
Maternal hyperthermia is a condition that occurs when an expectant woman’s body temperature elevates beyond normal levels due to malfunctioning thermoregulation. If pregnant women are not careful, they can predispose themselves to maternal hyperthermia a condition that causes "cardiovascular malformations" in unborn babies.
According to seslhd.com, waterbed, tans, heat waves, high room temperatures, sauna baths, Jacuzzis, and fevers can cause hyperthermia. Hyperthermia in early pregnancy increases the risk of neural tube and heart defects. Expectant women can instead relieve stress and muscle aches by taking warm baths, getting massages and practicing breathing exercises. Soon-to-be-moms should seek urgent treatment for any fevers they experience during the first six weeks of pregnancy.
8 Iron Deficiency Anemia: May Cause Postpartum Depression With Mama
Iron deficiency anemia develops in pregnancy when a woman lacks enough iron in her body. According to mayoclinic.com, an expectant woman with iron deficiency anemia normally does not have enough healthy RBCs to carry adequate oxygen to the body tissues. During pregnancy, women usually need twice the amount of iron to be able to make more RBCs, which will supply oxygen to the baby. Severe anemia increases the chances of low birth size, premature births, and postpartum depression.
Pregnant women should ensure that they include foods rich in iron like meats, dried beans, and peas in their meals. Prenatal vitamins can also help prevent and treat iron deficiency anemia. In extreme cases, some women take a separate iron supplement of about 27mgs a day.
7 Vitamin Overdose: Relax On The Vitamin A
Pregnant women ought to be very careful when taking pregnancy vitamins in addition to supplements. Vitamin overdose occurs when a mom takes more than the recommended daily amount of vitamins or supplements. According to wellseek.com, a vitamin overdose— especially an excess of vitamin A—can cause birth defects and increase toxins in the central nervous system, liver, bone, and skin of the unborn baby.
Symptoms of vitamin overdose include diarrhea, nausea, frequent urination, cloudy urine, stomach pain, and appetite loss. Moms should not mix vitamins and supplements carelessly; they should only take the recommended amount. A safe way to obtain extra vitamins is to get it from food sources.
6 Congenital Minamata Disease: Stay Away From Fish
Methylmercury is an organic form of mercury found in the air, easily absorbed by water, which means fish can eat it. Fish with high amounts of mercury include sharks, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel. These fish get mercury from the water they swim in.
According to NCBI, pregnant women who are not careful about the kind of fish they eat can give birth to children with neurological abnormalities and brain defects. An unborn baby is usually susceptible to the effects of methylmercury during the first month of pregnancy. In some cases, babies with methylmercury have symptoms similar to cerebral palsy. Expectant women should avoid eating fish with high levels of mercury and avoid getting fillings at the dentist when pregnant.
5 Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS): Getting Rubella Can Be Passed On To Baby
Congenital Rubella syndrome develops in babies while in the womb because of exposure to the rubella virus. Though quite rare, the pregnant women who get rubella during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy can pass it to their unborn baby and risk losing them or having a stillbirth.
If an unborn baby contracts CRS during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, he or she is likely to have problems like deafness, cataracts, heart defects, low birth size, and skin rashes at birth as revealed by CDC. After the 20th week, symptoms are usually much milder. Women should protect themselves from rubella through vaccination before getting pregnant. CRS moves from person to person just like the common cold.
4 Influenza: Fevers In Newborns Can Get Them Neural Tube Defects
Influenza is similar to the flu but apart from a running nose and sore throat, women also develop fever and muscle aches. It has a history of causing severe illness in expectant women compared to those who are not pregnant. Because of hormonal changes, pregnant women and their unborn babies are more prone to the influenza virus.
Influenza may be harmful to the unborn baby especially if it comes with a fever or pneumonia. According to the CDC, fevers put the unborn baby at risk of getting neural tube defects. Other risks include premature births and preterm labor. The best way to protect oneself against it is by getting a flu vaccine. Pregnant moms can even go for flu vaccines.
3 Hepatitis B Virus (HBV): Lifelong Infections
Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that results from contracting the Hepatitis B virus. If a pregnant woman has HBV, it can get to her unborn baby. As stated by the CDC, the likelihood of transmission depends on when the mother became infected. Chances of infecting the baby towards the end of the pregnancy are much higher than at the beginning.
Babies infected with HBV develop lifelong chronic infections like the destruction of the liver, liver cancer, or liver diseases. HBV's transmission is through coming in contact with an infected person's body fluids. Babies born to women with HBV should get a HBIG shot immediately after birth.
2 Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV): Can Cause Deafness And Jaundice
Cytomegalovirus is a virus present in most body fluids and can move from one person to another through saliva, urine, mucus, and other body fluids. If pregnant women are not careful they can transmit CMV to their developing babies and cause them to get the congenital CMV infection. CMV usually does not have serious symptoms but it is harmful to the unborn baby.
Children with congenital CMV may develop health problems like deafness, blindness, seizures, microcephaly, jaundice, autism, or intellectual disabilities with others appearing later in childhood, as stated by tommys.com. Antiviral treatment can reduce the risk of health problems and deafness in babies after birth.
1 Orofacial Clefts: Difficulty Swallowing And Eating
The most common orofacial cleft conditions are cleft lip and cleft palate, which according to KidsHealth are the most common birth defects out there. The great news about these conditions is that doctors can easily treat them once the baby is born, and the correction can happen even before the baby's second birthday.
These clefts are the result of the failure of the tissues making up the roof of the mouth or the upper lip to fuse together completely. The conditions begin to develop when the pregnancy is anywhere between week six and week 10. These conditions can result from a number of factors, but a pregnant woman who is not careful enough to take enough prenatal nutrients will be putting her baby at risk. In addition, soon-to-be moms who are drinking and using some illegal substances early in the pregnancy will drastically increase their babies' chances of getting these conditions.
Sources: medlineplus.gov, stanfordchildrens.org, kidshealth.org, cdc.gov, acog.org, tommys.org, healthline.com, seslhd.gov.au, mayoclinic.org, wellseek.co, ncbi.gov, marchofdimes.org