Back in the previous centuries, tuberculosis was one of the leading infections responsible for death of thousands and thousands of people. Nowadays, recovery can take a long time and the infection is usually cured with the help of antibiotics. It is possible to get infected during pregnancy and pregnant females who have discovered they have tuberculosis, should consider getting treatment as soon as possible. Further we will discuss the relationship between tuberculosis and pregnancy, symptoms, consequences and action plan in different situations.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious infection that is caused by the bacteria called “mycobacterium tuberculosis”. Mostly, TB attacks lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body, for example : bones, brain, spine and kidneys.
Infected person may have tuberculosis in two forms, active or latent.
Latent tuberculosis means that the immune system is able to block the germs(microbes) from spreading. Latent TB is not infectious and does not cause any symptoms. However, the bacteria is present and the infection may once get activated. Medicines can diminish the probability of activation.
Active tuberculosis, on the other hand, is contagious. The microbes are multiplying, spreading and causing symptoms.
As latent TB doesn’t cause symptoms, it is only possible to identify the infection through medical tests. Active TB , however, has somewhat distinctive symptoms including :
- A long-lasting cough (21 days or more)
- Cough that brings up phlegm, sometimes bloody.
- Pains in the chest
- Loss of appetite and weight
- Constant fatigue
- Fever and night sweats
Tuberculosis can be transmitted like flu or cold. Microbes can be spread when an infected person speaks, sneezes, coughs, laughs and so on. However, the infection is not easy to catch. A healthy immune system has the ability to fight and even kill the bacteria. It’s also not likely to get infected after having a brief contact with the infected person. The microbes grow relatively slowly and a frequent/long contact is required to catch the TB.
Smoking is proved to greatly increase the risk of getting Tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis and Pregnancy
After introduction to common symptoms of tuberculosis, it is not hard to notice a coincidence with the ones of pregnancy(change in appetite, nausea, fatigue). For that reason , sometimes the only noticeable symptom of TB during pregnancy can be coughing accompanied by the phlegm.
After noticing any of the symptoms, doctors will usually advice to do the phlegm, blood or skin tests. Chest x-ray may also be needed. Mendel-mantoux test, also known as tuberculin sensitivity test is another way to screen for the TB bacteria. A small injection in the skin followed by a swelling in the area is a sign of existence of TB bacteria. The swelling may appear throughout 2-3 days after the injection and it’s presence, doesn’t necessarily indicate the active form of tuberculosis.
Parents should not fear of the tests, as if not identified on time, tuberculosis has the potential to be very harmful for a baby. The consequences may include:
- Premature birth
- Preterm labour
- Baby getting infected with TB (If TB is active and mother has not started treatment yet, there is a chance that baby gets infected during labor. Doctors will make the test after the baby is born.)
The treatment includes antibiotics and can kill the infection if are taken regularly, according to doctor’s prescription. Majority of medicines are safe for both, mother and baby. The treatment may last up to 9 months, until the bacteria is finally killed. However, unfortunately, there are cases when tuberculosis is resistant to medicines(drug-resistant TB) and treating it can be more difficult.
Pregnant females should combine doctor’s treatment with the lifestyle that will make their immune system stronger. Eating healthy food and getting as much fresh air as possible, play an important role in the recovery.
Tuberculosis and Surrogacy
Of course the surrogacy agency and clinic will screen a surrogate mother on tuberculosis. However, it is possible that surrogate mother catches the infection during pregnancy – just like any other pregnant female. It is important that the surrogacy agency is not only monitoring the pregnancy, but has the ability to act operatively in similar situations. If surrogate gets infected, the agency should act accordingly and promptly to perform the steps that are needed to eliminate the issue. Surrogate mother should receive immediate treatment, get checked regularly and be controlled to lead the lifestyle that will increase the chance of a successful pregnancy to maximum.
Intended parents may want to get informed about surrogacy agency’s action plan in similar situations before the beginning of the program.
Parents have to stay positive. Despite the fact that tuberculosis is not a desired condition, especially while expecting a baby, it is better to be aware of it and receive treatment in a timely manner. There is always a way to make the situation better, especially with the disease that is proven to be treatable.