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Fetal effects of maternal infection 

Fetal effects of maternal infection
Fetal effects of maternal infection

Lawrence Impey

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date: 25 February 2021

This chapter looks at the fetal effects of maternal infection. Immunity is mildly suppressed in pregnancy, and the fetal immune system is developmentally immature. Infections in pregnancy can therefore be devastating both for the mother, as is occasionally seen with varicella, and for the fetus, as exemplified by congenital infections such as those caused by rubella, cytomegalovirus, syphilis, and toxoplasmosis. The fetal effects of maternal infection in pregnancy can be broadly categorized as follows (these are not mutually exclusive): transplacental infection causing fetal malformation (e.g. treponema pallidum, rubella); transplacental infection causing severe in utero illness (e.g. parvovirus); neonatal infection/carrier status as a result of transplacental or intrapartum infection (e.g. HIV, herpes zoster); such neonatal infection may be severe; preterm delivery, late miscarriage, perinatal death, and cerebral palsy at term delivery are more common in the presence of in utero and placental infection (chorioamnionitis) (e.g. group B streptococcus).

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