A vertically transmitted infection is one that can be passed from a mother to a child either during pregnancy or during birth. It can be transmitted in any manner, either by passing through the placenta or by contamination in the uterus or the inner and outer vagina. It can be transferred at any state either as an embryo, fetus or newborn. Although it is a risk in every pregnancy, the risks are higher in pregnancy where the mother suffers from malnutrition.
The most common infections are known by the mnemonic TORCH:
Symptoms are usually subtle. In most cases, the mother notices nothing unusual, and even a newborn may seem normal or may seem like they are suffering from influenza. However, a newborn may be unusually small for its gestational age, and there may be a skin rash.
Transmitted infections may cause different symptoms than those found in the disease as an adult, and may be far more serious.
The best treatment is prevention. Pregnant women should be screened for diseases as soon as possible during the pregnancy and treated without delay. In most cases, this will prevent transmission. Pregnant women should also ensure their vaccinations are up to date.