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As awareness of the effects of smoking and drinking in pregnancy continues to rise, the time is right to increase public understanding of some lesser-known – but potentially serious – maternal infections.

Cot or crib? Breastfeeding or formula milk? Disposable or reusable nappies? Travel system
or separate pram and car seat?

These are all choices that many parents-to-be will make in the months leading up to the birth of their baby, particularly if it is their first, but what about infections that may threaten the baby’s life before or just after it is born? Awareness of such issues is worryingly low, yet they can have a potentially life-changing impact. Most mothers-to-be know to avoid soft cheese because of the risk of the bacterial infection listeriosis, which can cause pregnancy and birth complications, and increases the risk of miscarriage.

Similarly, pregnant cat owners will probably be aware of the need for their partner to take over emptying the litter tray to reduce the chance of getting the parasitic infection toxoplasmosis, which not only increases the chance of miscarriage and still-birth but can also lead to serious health problems in the developing baby, such as cerebral palsy and brain damage. But what about all the other infections?