A/Prof Tan Thiam Chye, Dr Tan Kim Teng, Adj Assoc Prof Tan Heng Hao and A/Prof John Tee Chee Seng from KK Women's and Children's Hospital share tips on how to be safe around pets during pregnancy.
Coming into contact with animals when you're pregnant
Pregnancy and your dog
Dogs are usually safe for you and your developing baby. However, be careful of large dogs which may jump on your tummy while you are lying down or sitting.
Pregnancy and your cat
Cats may transmit toxoplasmosis (a parasitic infection). Toxoplasmosis can cause premature delivery, serious malformations of your baby and low birth-weight.
Transmission usually occurs from contact with feline faeces. Outdoor cats are more likely to have toxoplasmosis than cats that remain strictly indoors. Since cats may use both litter boxes and outdoor sand and soil, you can become infected after changing a contaminated litter box, digging or gardening outside, or eating unwashed contaminated fruits and vegetables.
If you are immune to toxoplasmosis by previous infection before pregnancy, then you are not likely to be infected again. Thus, if you are a cat owner and trying to get pregnant, ask your doctor for a simple blood test (antibodies level) to check if you are immune to toxoplasmosis.
Unfortunately, there is no useful vaccine against toxoplasmosis.Eat only well-cooked meat. Avoid dried raw meats such as beef jerky.Wash fruits and vegetables well before eating them and wash all utensils after preparing raw meat, seafood, fruits and vegetables.
Pregnancy and your pet bird
Birds can transmit infections like campylobacter and salmonella. They can cause miscarriage in early pregnancy or stillbirth in advanced pregnancy.
It is useful to take your pet bird to your veterinarian to check for such infections. Inform your doctor that you have a pet bird in the house.
Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water following any handling of your pet bird or its cage.
Pregnancy and farm animals
Farm animals are known to transmit listeria, campylobacter and also salmonella infections. Listeria can cause severe infection, miscarriage or stillbirth.
Try to avoid leisure farm visits. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water following any contact with farm animals or their living areas. Do not feed the animals or handle dead animals. Drink only pasteurised milk as this will eliminate the risk of food-borne listeriosis.
"The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth", a pregnancy book written by A/Prof Tan Thiam Chye, Dr. Tan Kim Teng, Dr. Tan Heng Hao, A/Prof John Tee Chee Seng.
KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), a member of the
SingHealth group. * Available at all major book stores and Pharmacy in KKH.
See previous page for information on
hair dying during pregnancy