Your Pregnancy After 35 : Your Health and Medical History (part 9) - Toxoplasmosis, Urinary-Tract and Kidney Problems, Tay-Sachs Disease

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- How to have natural miscarriage
- Foods That Cause Miscarriage
- Signs Proving You Have Boy Pregnancy

29. Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by the microbe Toxoplasma gondii. It is spread by eating infected raw meat, drinking infected raw goat’s milk, eating infected raw eggs, eating food that has been contaminated by insects or by contact with an infected cat or its feces. You can pick up the protozoa from a cat’s litter box, from counters or other surfaces the cat walks on, or from the cat itself when you pet it.

Infection in a mother-to-be can lead to miscarriage or an infected infant at birth. Usually an infection in a pregnant woman has no symptoms. An infected baby may appear normal at birth. Between 80 and 90% develop serious eye infections months to years later. Babies whose mothers had toxoplasmosis in the first trimester are usually the most severely affected. About 1 in 1000 babies is born with toxoplasmosis.

To prevent transmission of the microorganism, cook foods thoroughly and use hygienic measures in the kitchen. Get someone else to change the kitty litter. Keep cats off counters, tables and other areas where you could pick up the microbe. Wash your hands thoroughly after every contact with your cat or raw meat, and don’t nuzzle or kiss your cat.

30. Urinary-Tract and Kidney Problems

A urinary-tract infection (UTI) refers to an infection anywhere in the urinary tract, which includes the bladder, urethra, ureters and kidneys. Your healthcare provider may do a urinalysis and a urine culture for UTIs at your first visit. He or she may also check your urine for infections on subsequent visits.

UTIs are common during pregnancy because of increased pressure on the area. The uterus sits directly on top of the bladder and on the tubes, called ureters, that lead from the kidneys to the bladder. An enlarging uterus puts increasing pressure on the bladder and ureters.

Symptoms of a bladder infection include frequent or burning urination, the urge to urinate, though nothing comes out, and blood in the urine (if the infection is severe).

Pyelonephritis is an infection of the urinary tract that also involves the kidneys; it occurs in 1 to 2% of all pregnant women. Symptoms of pyelonephritis include many of those associated with a bladder infection. The infection may require hospitalization and treatment with intravenous antibiotics.

Kidney stones occur about once in every 1500 pregnancies. Symptoms usually include severe back pain and blood in the urine. In pregnancy, ultrasound is usually used to diagnose a kidney stone. A kidney stone in pregnancy is usually treated with pain medication and by drinking lots of fluid or receiving I.V.s to hydrate you so you can pass the stone.

31. Tay-Sachs Disease

Tay-Sachs disease is one of the most common Jewish genetic disorders. It is an inherited disease of the central nervous system. The disease occurs most frequently in descendants of Ashkenazi Jews; about one out of every 30 American Jews carries the Tay-Sachs gene. Some non-Jewish people of French-Canadian ancestry (from the East St. Lawrence River Valley of Quebec) and members of the Cajun population in Louisiana are also at increased risk.

Do You Have a Fever?

Fever often accompanies illness. A fever, especially a high one, can be serious because your baby relies on you for its temperature control. A prolonged high fever, especially in the first trimester, may cause some birth defects. To bring down a high fever, drink lots of liquids (1 pint of fluid a day for every degree above 98.6F), take acetaminophen and dress appropriately to help you cool down. If your healthcare provider prescribes medication for an infection or other illness that may be causing the fever, take all of it as prescribed.

The most common form of the disease affects babies, who appear healthy at birth and seem to develop normally for the first few months of life. Then development slows, and symptoms begin to appear. Unfortunately, there is no treatment and no cure for Tay-Sachs disease at this time.

Babies born with Tay-Sachs disease lack a protein called hexosaminidase A, or hex-A. When hex-A isn’t present, substances build up and gradually destroy brain and nerve cells, until the central nervous system stops working.

Tay-Sachs disease can be diagnosed before birth by amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS). The disease is hereditary; a Tay-Sachs carrier has one normal gene for hex-A and one Tay-Sachs gene.

There are various types of Tay-Sachs disease. The classic type, which affects babies, is the most common. Other rare deficiencies of the hex-A enzyme are sometimes included under the umbrella of Tay-Sachs disease. These often are referred to as juvenile, chronic and adult-onset forms of hex-A deficiency.

32. Your Lifestyle May Impact Your Pregnancy

Your lifestyle and your environment can affect your health and your growing baby’s health. Environmental poisons and pollutants that can harm a fetus include lead, mercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and pesticides.

Exposure to lead increases the chance of miscarriage. Lead is readily transported across the placenta to the baby; toxicity occurs as early as 12 weeks of pregnancy. Lead exposure can come from many sources, including water pipes, solders, storage batteries, some construction materials, paints, dyes and wood preservatives. Workplace exposure is possible; check to see if you are at risk.

Reports of mercury exposure have been linked to various problems in a baby. Exposure occurs with ingestion of contaminated fish; one report linked contaminated grain to mercury poisoning.

PCBs are mixtures of several chemical compounds used for industrial purposes. Most fish, birds and humans have small, measurable amounts of PCBs in their tissues. Typical exposure comes from some of the foods we eat, such as fish.

Exposure to pesticides during pregnancy is also held responsible for an increase in problems. Pesticides include a large number of agents. Human exposure is common because of the extensive use of pesticides; those of most concern include DDT, chlordane, heptachlor and lindane. Stop using pesticides in your home and around your work area during pregnancy.

You may not be able to eliminate all contact with pesticides. To protect yourself against these agents, avoid exposure when possible. Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them. If you know you’ll be around certain chemicals, wash your hands thoroughly after exposure.

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