CDC Says Babies Born in Water at Risk for Legionnaires’ Disease
Pregnant persons choose water births for a slew of reasons. For example, many women report experiencing less pain during childbirth while in the water. Some also claim that it may reduce the number of fetal complications that could arise. And others just think it sounds like a more peaceful way to give birth (especially if you’re having a home water birth). But nothing is without its fair share of complications. And in a recent report released by the CDC is warning that babies born in water are at risk for legionnaires’ disease—this after two water births in Arizona led to newborns developing the infection.
Legionnaires disease is a bacterial lung infection akin to pneumonia, that stems from legionellosis—a respiratory disease. The legionella bactrium can be found in fresh water like lakes and rivers, but has also been found in large plumbing systems, showers, hot tubs, decorative fountains, and more. The problem with water births lies in the fact that the bacteria can end up in the water itself, and find its way up the newborn’s nostrils and into their lungs. This is definitely a risk many mamas would not want to take.
More recently, two babies born in Arizona were found to have the disease as a direct result of home water births. In one case back in January, the baby was born in a tub full of tap water. Though the tub had been cleaned with vinegar and water, the water itself was not sterile, sending the newborn to the ER with respiratory distress. In the second case, the water for the tub had been heated to 98 degrees for a full week. The bacteria actually thrive at this temperature, and just days after the baby’s birth, they were found to have a high fever and cloudiness in the lungs, all pointing to legionnella.
How To Avoid The Disease
According to Parents, the American College of Obstetics and Gynecology suggests only laboring in water during the first stage of labor. The recommend only attempting water births at facilities that follow this practice, where they also follow “infection control procedures, maintaining and cleaning all tubs and immersion pools,” and who have a “plan in place for how to move women from the tub is complications arise.” Plain and simple, if you want to avoid this disease, you’ll also have to avoid home water births, where there might be more variables in the conditions of the tub or of the water.
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