Several types of viral infection have been implicated in miscarriage, including varicella, which causes chickenpox; rubella, which causes German measles; and HIV, which causes AIDS. Certain bacteria may also be to blame: An Austrian study found that having bacterial vaginosis (BV) seemed to double the risk of a second-trimester miscarriage. (The researchers didn't examine first-trimester loss, which is far more common.) In the U.S., women who don't show BV symptoms usually aren't screened. But study coauthor Herbert Kiss, MD, says his hospital now routinely tests for common genital-tract infections late in the first trimester or early in the second and has seen miscarriage rates go down. Finally, listeriosis, caused by certain bacteria found in food, can be a risk. The FDA urges pregnant women to avoid hot dogs and luncheon meats that aren't steaming hot, as well as smoked seafoods like lox, and unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses.
Originally published in the October 2008 issue of Parents magazine.
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