Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless and tasteless poisonous gas. You can't see it or smell it. It is present in cigarette smoke(not e cigarettes), but also in faulty gas boilers and car exhaust fumes.
How does carbon monoxide affect my baby?
It replaces some of the oxygen carried by your red blood cells, which means less oxygen getting to your baby. It is dangerous because it slows your baby’s growth and development, and increases the risk of miscarriage,stillbirth and sudden infant death.
Carbon monoxide breath testing
All women are offered screening for carbon monoxide:
This test can also show whether you’re inhaling harmful amounts of second hand smoke (passive smoking). If your CO reading is above 4ppm you will receive advice from your midwife on stop smoking services or advised to contact the Health and Safety Executive gas safety line.
Is there carbon monoxide in electronic cigarettes?
No. Electronic cigarettes do not contain carbon monoxide or many of the other harmful gases found in cigarettes. If you are using electronic cigarettes only you will not have a higher reading in a CO test.
If you are infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV), toxoplasmosis or genital herpes during pregnancy, there is a chance that the infection might be transferred to your baby. Below are some simple ways to help protect yourself and your baby against these infections:
Contracting cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection during pregnancy poses a risk to the developing baby, as some of these babies are born with permanent health problems. CMV is found in bodily fluids, including urine, saliva, blood, mucus and tears. It is spread through close contact with bodily fluids. The main way pregnant women catch CMV is from small children’s saliva and urine. So women who work with children, or who have a family already, need to be especially careful during pregnancy. For information about how to minimise this risk, click here.
The parasite that causes toxoplasmosis is found in the poo of infected cats and in infected meat. You can also catch it from soil that has been contaminated by cat poo.If it spreads to your baby it can cause serious complications including miscarriage, especially if you get infected early in pregnancy. For more information about toxoplasmosis, click here.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection.If you have genital herpes during pregnancy, there's a risk your baby could develop a serious illness called neonatal herpes; please alert your GP or midwife. Women whose first infection with herpes occurred before pregnancy can usually expect to have a healthy baby and a vaginal delivery because they will transfer protective antibodies to their baby during the pregnancy (unless the baby is born extremely prematurely). For more information about genital herpes, click here and for more information about neonatal herpes, click here.
Do’s and don’t for avoiding infections that can affect your baby during pregnancy: