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Tuberculosis

Pregnant with TB?

04/09/2008

Question:

I am 5 1/2 months pregnant and just found out that my husband tested positive for TB. He was sick at the begining of my pregnancy. I am worried that he could have passed it on to me. What should I do?

Answer:

In answering this question, I am assuming your husband tested "positive" means that he was diagnosed with active TB disease.

Only people with active TB disease of the lung (pulmonary) can infect others by spreading the TB germ in the air when they speak, cough, sing, or sneeze and create aerosols. Symptoms of active TB disease of the lungs include cough, fever, chills, night sweats, weigh loss or abnormal chest x-ray.

If your husband has pulmonary TB, then you will have been exposed to TB and you are at risk of being infected with the TB germ or becoming sick with active TB disease. If you have any symptoms of active TB disease, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible for a medical evaluation. Make sure you let your doctors know that you have been exposed to TB.

The Public Health Department in your area may have already contacted you for a TB screening evaluation. Your TB screening evaluation will include getting a baseline tuberculin skin test (TST); if the first one is negative (less than 5 millimeters), then you will need to get another TST 8 weeks later. If your TST result is positive (greater or equal to 5 millimeters) or if you have any symptoms of active TB disease as listed above, you will need a chest x-ray and a medical evaluation.

Untreated TB can cause problems for you and your baby. Infants born to women with untreated TB may have lower birth weight than those born without TB and, rarely, the infant may be born with TB. However, more commonly the baby is exposed after birth.

If your skin test is positive and you do not have any evidence of active TB disease, you are diagnosed with latent TB infection (LTBI). You will be prescribed a medication to help prevent development of active TB disease. The preferred treatment for LTBI in pregnant women is isoniazid (INH) daily for 9 months. You will also be given pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) supplementation. Your doctor will choose the drug that treats the infection but does not harm your fetus.

After your baby is born, a pediatric infectious disease specialist should evaluate your baby for any evidence of TB infection and if any medication is needed.

For more information:

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Response by:

Shu-Hua   Wang, MD, MPH&TM Shu-Hua Wang, MD, MPH&TM
Clinical Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases
Clinical Assistant Professor of The Division of Epidemiology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University

Larry S Schlesinger, MD Larry S Schlesinger, MD
Professor:
Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics
Microbiology Administration
Environmental Health Sciences
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University