Dec 19, 2013 8:00 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs


For pregnant women, the holiday season is a time for celebration, but it’s also a time to exercise caution to avoid some of the hazards that are prevalent at this time of year. And for those planning on becoming pregnant, it’s important to remember the average woman doesn’t find out she’s pregnant until she’s five or six weeks along. This means a woman could have an exposure before knowing she has conceived. She may then find herself worried about what it might mean for the baby.

For 30 years, the Utah Department of Health and the University of Utah’s MotherToBaby Utah (formerly the Pregnancy Risk Line) have provided answers about medications and other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

“Reliable and accurate information about the risks of medications, vaccines, alcohol, chemicals, beauty products, and other exposures during pregnancy or while breastfeeding is hard to find, especially online,” said John C. Carey, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah and Medical Director of MotherToBaby Utah. “But by calling MotherToBaby Utah, moms can get a personalized risk assessment so they and their families know what to avoid and can make informed health decisions,” he added.

Tips for This Holiday Season

Tip 1. Get a Flu Vaccine.

Not only should a pregnant woman get a flu shot, but anyone older than 6 months of age who will be around a newborn should be vaccinated. Breastfeeding moms should get a flu shot if they didn’t during pregnancy.

Tip 2. Tdap Vaccine.

Health care providers now recommend this vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis for moms in EVERY pregnancy, regardless of when they were last vaccinated. If a mom didn’t get the vaccine while pregnant, she should during breastfeeding.
Anyone planning on being around a newborn needs to be up-to-date on the Tdap booster, which is usually given every 10 years.

Tip 3. Choose Wisely at the Buffet Table.

Drinks like eggnog and spiced cider may contain alcohol. If you’re not sure what is in a beverage, ask the host. Also, avoid soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk as they may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in a developing baby and increase the risk of miscarriage, uterine infection, or premature labor. Meats like cocktail franks and pâté can also contain bacteria. Meats need to be thoroughly cooked so that bacteria are killed.

Tip 4. CMV (Cytomegalovirus) May Be Lurking.

CMV is a common virus that often has no symptoms. If a pregnant woman gets CMV, her baby could be at increased risk of hearing loss, developmental delays or birth defects,. To prevent infection, pregnant women should wash hands after changing diapers, feeding children, wiping children’s noses, or handling children’s toys. Moms should avoid sharing food, eating utensils, toothbrushes, and pacifiers with their children. Ask your health care provider about CMV at your next visit.

Tip 5. Holiday Decoration Safety.

Some artificial trees, strings of lights, and ornaments may contain lead. Use gloves or wash hands after handling decorations to reduce exposure. Because of changes in their center of gravity, pregnant moms should stay off ladders and let others decorate the hard to reach places.

For a FREE personalized risk assessment, call MotherToBaby Utah at
1-800-822-2229 Monday - Friday from 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM or visit MotherToBabyUT.org.

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