Giardia lamblia is a parasite found in soil, food, human or animal waste, and untreated water in developed countries. It is best to prevent contraction of Giardia during pregnancy in the first place. Make sure to boil or filter all untreated water, such as a stream or well water, before you drink it.
Giardia affects approximately 2% of adults and 6% to 8% of children. However, in developing countries, the prevalence is much greater with almost 33% of people having been infected.
There are a couple of ways to contract Giardia:
- ingesting the parasite
- being exposed to someone with the parasite
- engaging in unsafe anal sex
How to Avoid Giardia During Pregnancy
Those who work in daycares and health facilities should practice good hygiene, and wash their hands frequently and responsibly (i.e. when moving from one patient to the next).
Practice safe intercourse, especially safe anal sex, and consider refraining from any oral-genital intercourse until after pregnancy. Lastly, you should thoroughly wash any fruits or vegetables before you ingest them.
Some people notice their symptoms disappear without any medical intervention. For those whose symptoms persist, there seem to be no known natural remedies for giardiasis.
It is likely your doctor will delay treatment until after your baby is born. Many of the drugs used to treat giardiasis are not safe to take during pregnancy.
You should always keep your doctor updated on the effects of your Giardia infection, especially if you are dehydrated, have blood in your feces, or have experienced diarrhea or any other debilitating complication for longer than two weeks.
Giardiasis, by itself, does not typically have an effect on your pregnancy; however be aware that for women who experience substantial malabsorption and weight loss, this infection may have a negative impact on pregnancy outcome.
During pregnancy, your doctor may advise that you limit treatment to treating the symptoms associated with your infection.
How to Treat Giardia when Naturally does not Work
If your Giardiasis is severe, your doctor may prescribe paromomycin. Alternatively, your doctor may prescribe metronidazole.
This medicine is safe to take throughout pregnancy. Once the disease becomes mild, your doctor may choose to put off treatment until after your baby is born or if you are taking metronidazole, after the first trimester.
Want to Know More?
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (July 13, 2012). Giardia – Epidemiology & Risk Factors.
2. Mayo Clinic Staff. (November 14, 2012). Giardia infection (giardiasis).
3. MedlinePlus (US National Library of Medicine: NIH). (May 30, 2012).Giardia Infection.
4. Stray-Pederson, B. (2000). Parasitic Infections in Cohen, R. W. (Ed.), Complications of Pregnancy, 5th edition (702-3). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
5. Sweet, R. L. & Gibbs, R. S. (2002). Parasitic Diseases in Pregnancy in Infectious Diseases of the Female Genital Tract, 4th edition (578). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.