Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by the microbe named Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This bacterium spread from person to person through tiny droplets released into the air when the affected person coughs and sneezes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) website, India is a significant contributor to total tuberculosis cases. Even the Global Tuberculosis Report (2021) has mentioned that India has the world’s largest tuberculosis epidemic. This evidence shows that the incidence of tuberculosis is high in India and pregnant women are not immune from this disease. In the article, we will discuss the effects of tuberculosis on pregnancy and other related questions.
How does tuberculosis affect pregnancy?
Untreated tuberculosis can cause serious health hazards to a pregnant woman and her unborn baby. Even babies born to women with tuberculosis may have a lower birth weight than normal and are at a higher risk of developing tuberculosis.
It is essential to understand active tuberculosis because people suffering from this type of tuberculosis show symptoms. However, it is not the case with latent tuberculosis, so such cases often go unnoticed.
Doctors recommend the treatment of tuberculosis in pregnant women whenever the probability is moderate to high. Evidence also shows that the drugs that treat tuberculosis cross the placenta. But they do not have a harmful impact on the fetus.
Does tuberculosis testing affect pregnancy?
It does not seem so. Evidence shows that most tuberculosis testing methods are valid and safe to use during pregnancy. The tuberculin skin test is considered safe to use throughout pregnancy. Also, the blood test is safe but has not been tested enough for diagnosing Mycobacterium tuberculosis in pregnant women. It is always better to consult doctors before deciding which test as this ensures the safety of both mother and baby.
Should mothers with tuberculosis breastfeed their babies?
Yes. Evidence suggests that breastfeeding should not be discouraged among women taking medicines to treat tuberculosis. The concentration of these medicines is too low in breast milk. Hence, they are not toxic for the baby. In addition to this, people should not believe that medicines in breast milk can be beneficial for the baby in any manner. New mothers with tuberculosis must consult their doctors before reaching any conclusion.
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