Can Norovirus Affect My Unborn Baby? The Stomach Flu Is Spreading

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With the threat of Zika virus scaring expectant mothers all over the world this year, many moms are now wondering if other viruses are equally threatening to their growing babies. With winter in full swing and the stomach bug making its rounds, several parents are wondering whether the norovirus (also known as the stomach flu) can affect fetuses. Luckily for families everywhere, norovirus can't affect unborn babies directly, so mothers can rest easy — and if you have norovirus, you'll definitely want to do plenty of resting.

According to Pregnancy Magazine, norovirus isn't usually dangerous for mothers or their babies. As anyone who has had the virus can vouch for, it's an extremely unpleasant sickness — but there's nothing inherently worrisome about it. What pregnant women will want to keep an eye on, however, is their level of hydration. Diarrhea and vomiting can wear a person out quickly, and dehydration can increase a woman's chances of contracting a urinary tract infection. According to a study published in Global Advances in Health and Medicine in 2013, getting a UTI during pregnancy is associated with preterm birth and other complications, so mothers who catch norovirus should make sure to stay hydrated and well-rested.

If you haven't gotten the winter vomiting bug yet, make sure you're taking steps to prevent norovirus: wash your hands thoroughly (I'm talking a good 20 seconds of scrubbing here, minimum), keep your hands away from your face, and make sure to get clean after you've been in high-density areas, such as public transit. If you do contract it, make sure you keep it from spreading by isolating yourself during your sickness, cleaning surfaces with bleach after vomiting or having diarrhea, and continuing to wash your hands diligently, since this sneaky virus can keep its hosts contagious for up to two weeks after symptoms disappear.

As always, you'll want to be a little more careful if you get sick while pregnant. Stay hydrated, rest up, and make sure you monitor for any unusual symptoms. Let your doctor know that you have norovirus, and go to the emergency room as soon as possible if you feel contractions, have a high fever, or can't keep any water down. If you experience any symptoms of a urinary tract infection (such as discomfort when you pee, frequent urges to go to the bathroom, and fever or chills), go to your doctor. Antibiotics should clear it up quickly enough, and drinking water frequently will help clear the infection.

Most of the time, norovirus shouldn't affect an unborn baby — so simply make sure you're treating yourself right with lots of rest and water, monitor your symptoms, and hopefully you'll be in the clear within a day or two.