BYU students to hold seminar on maternal health

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BYU public health students plan to raise awareness of prenatal infections to protect future mothers and their children with a seminar on March 27.

Students set up a booth March 18–20 in the Wilkinson Student Center to advertise the seminar and educate students about the prenatal infections that affect one in four women.

Public health students, Waverly Merrill and Justive Arman inform students of three infections. (Photo by Samantha Williams)
Public health students Waverly Merrill and Justive Arman tell students of three maternal infections. (Photo by Natalie Stoker)

“We are educating people here on BYU campus about three different infections that can prove to be really detrimental to pregnant women and their babies,” said Waverly Merrill, a public health student organizing the event. “The three infections are group B strep, listeriosis and toxoplasmosis.”

The goal of the event is to thoroughly educate pregnant women or people planning to start a family within the next few years about the different infections so they can  take steps to prevent three different diseases.

“At BYU we talk a lot about families, and we talk about protecting families and strengthening them, but we don’t have a sex education course because we’re a Christian school, which is really understandable,” said Justice Arman, the project leader. “We kind of ignore that nine-month period in between where women are bombarded with all this information.”

These three infections discussed by the public health students have low awareness rates but are common among pregnant women. According to the BYU Department of Health Science, group B strep is found in the reproductive tract of 25 percent of healthy women.

Waverly Merrill discusses three infections that can be prevented during pregnancy. (Photo by Samantha Williams)
Waverly Merrill describes three infections that can be prevented during pregnancy. (Photo by Natalie Stoker)

“There are a lot of things that women need to be aware of when they are pregnant,” said Erin Hill, a public health student and assistant to the project. “These are just a few of the diseases we want to focus on. We’re just creating awareness — we want people to know that the risk is out there, even if they aren’t at that point in their life.”

Students leading the prenatal infections project encourage all members of the BYU community to attend the seminar to learn more about prevention.

“We’re not doing this for a project; we’re not doing this for med school,” Arman said. “We’re doing this because people need to know about these things and understand that they can ask their physician about this.”

The students will hold an informational seminar on the topic in the Wilkinson Student Center, room 3380, on March 27 at 7 p.m.

To learn more information about prenatal infections, talk to an OB/GYN physician or reference the CDC website or the Utah Department of Health website.

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