Passing on an infection from the mother to the unborn child

    • Brief

    • Certain infections such as sexually transmitted infections can be passed from a mother to her unborn child (foetus). Proper medical care before, during and after delivery is essential in preventing the transfer of these infections.

    • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

    • You can infect the foetus if an STI is not treated and this can be dangerous for the foetus. If you know you have an STI, talk to your healthcare provider. They can help you to take the right steps to protect the foetus.

      Most STIs can be treated during pregnancy without any danger for the foetus, except for hepatitis B. For hepatitis B, the baby is given a vaccine after birth. Herpes in the vagina in the last 3 months of pregnancy can be dangerous for the foetus. Contact a healthcare provider immediately if you are pregnant and have a herpes infection.

      A pregnant woman is always tested for several STIs. If you want a test for a specific STI, you can ask your healthcare provider.

    • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

    • If you have HIV, you can still have healthy children. However, you should note the following:

      • As a pregnant woman with HIV you have to take medicines during pregnancy and delivery. In this case, more than 99% of babies are born without HIV.
      • In most cases, a woman with HIV can have a natural delivery. The healthcare provider decides whether you have a natural delivery or a caesarean section.
      • The baby must be given medicines after birth.
      • You cannot breastfeed your child because breast milk contains HIV. There are other ways to bond with your baby.