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Neonatal listeriosis. What it is and prevention in pregnancy

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Throughout history, neonatal infections have been major causes of death. They also often affect babies before, during, and after birth. One of the bacteria that can cause serious damage, cause miscarriages, and deaths, is Listeria monocytogenes. Learn what the symptoms and characteristics of neonatal listeriosis are and how to prevent it.

Neonatal Listeriosis, what is

Neonatal Listeriosis is an infection that can be transmitted transplacentally, during, or even after delivery. In most cases, infestation occurs in the third trimester of gravidity, causing the formation and spread of granulomas in some organs.

Meanwhile, in adults, it is produced by the intake of contaminated products, which do not need to be cooked in order to ingest them. For example dairy, raw vegetables, vacuum or refrigerated foods, because these environments promote the growth of bacillus.

Due to an increase in incidence and mortality (which is about 30%) neonatal listeriosis was included in the list of mandatory declaration diseases (OEDs) in 2015.

Symptoms and characteristics of neonatal listeriosis

Pregnant women usually experience only a mild flu-like illness. Diagnosis is made by culture of blood samples from the mother or newborn. Although infections in pregnant women can be asymptomatic in up to 29% of cases. In contrast, abortion, preterm births with amniotic fluid, stillbirth, or neonatal sepsis are recurrent in infants.

Meanwhile, newborns who develop this disease hours or days after birth are often underweight. Complications such as respiratory or circulatory failure, as well as signs of sepsis, are also common.

However, in some cases, it may take several weeks for symptoms to appear. In these cases, they may even suffer from meningitis. Either way, even if the disease is congenital, antibiotic treatment can improve symptoms.

Prevention of neonatal listeriosis

To ensure the prevention of neonatal listeriosis, women in a state of gravidity should avoid products that may be contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes, such as:

  • Raw, smoked, or vacuum-packed meats and fish.
  • Sausages and sausages.
  • Meat-untable patés or creams that require refrigeration.
  • Vegetables “ready for consumption”.
  • Combined salads.
  • Unpasteurized or cultivated dairy.

In addition, it is essential to take care of hygiene and prepare food properly. Therefore, it is essential to wash your hands, utensils, chopping boards, and any instruments that have been used to handle raw foods correctly.

Another aspect of prevention is to advise avoiding pate and unpasteurized foods, such as soft cheeses such as feta cheese, brie, camembert cheese, and blue. Creamy cheeses, yogurt, and cottage cheese are considered safe. In the United Kingdom, the advice in this regard from the Medical Director published in maternity clinics led to a sharp decrease in cases of listeriosis in pregnancy in the late 1980s.

In August 2019, an outbreak was declared in several provinces of Andalusia, southern Spain, as a result of the consumption of a contaminated batch of processed meat products. As of August 19, 2019, 80 people were diagnosed and 56 hospitalized (43 of them in the province of [42] Seville). As of August 20, 114 people were diagnosed and 18 pregnant women were diagnosed in the hospital.

Remember that maintaining a healthy diet, avoiding high-risk foods, can ensure your and your baby’s well-being.


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