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How should I handle listeriosis if I'm pregnant?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

While listeriosis is often a very mild condition for normal, healthy individuals, it is a very serious condition for pregnant women. Even if the expecting mother does not experience severe symptoms, having listeriosis early on in a pregnancy can cause a miscarriage, and having it late may cause a stillbirth or, if the newborn survives, a high likelihood of infant fatality or severe health complications. If you get diagnosed with listeriosis while pregnant, it is particularly important for you to get treated with antibiotics as soon as possible, even if your symptoms aren't that bad. This will decrease the likelihood that your illness will infect your child. You should take your antibiotics as long as your doctor prescribes, and stay vigilant for any change in or worsening of your symptoms.

Listeriosis is a rare but serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria called Listeria. Listeriosis mostly affects pregnant women, newborns, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Pregnant women are about 13 times more likely than the general population to get listeriosis. About 1 in 6 of the patients who are diagnosed with listeriosis are pregnant women.

Pregnant women with listeriosis may experience a mild, flu-like illness or no symptoms. However, listeriosis can be very serious for unborn babies or newborn infants. Listeriosis during pregnancy can lead to fetal loss (miscarriage or stillbirth), premature delivery, or serious infection in newborn infants.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.