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Pediatr Med Chir. 2008 Jul-Aug;30(4):177-91.

[Viral infections of the fetus and newborn infant].

[Article in Italian]

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Center for Translational Research and Laboratory of Pathology, Saint Joseph Hospital, MilanoCuore, Milano.


Viral infections may be vertically transmitted from mother to child at different times, ranging from in utero transmission, which occurs during pregnancy, perinatal transmission, which takes place during delivery and postnatal transmission, which is usually the consequence of breastfeeding. Mother-to-child transmission, which may occur after primary, recurrent or chronic maternal infection, is potentially harmful to the fetus or the newborn since it may result in miscarriage, fetal death, congenital anomalies, intrauterine growth restriction, or severe neonatal disease. Some risk factors are thought to affect the rate of mother-to-child transmission, such as the presence of other viral infections, maternal viral load, type of infection (primary versus recurrent), obstetrical procedures (prolonged rupture of membranes, mode of delivery), social-economical conditions and breastfeeding. For some of the vertically transmitted viruses, interventions are nowadays available to prevent mother-to-child transmission, such as vaccines, passive immunization, antiviral drugs. Moreover, perinatal and postnatal infections may be prevented by the use of elective caesarean delivery and avoidance of breastfeeding.

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