Thursday, 1 August 2013
The Risks of Genital Herpes to an Unborn Child
For women, having genital herpes doesn't mean you can't have children. But there are risk factors that must be considered due to the possible transmission of the herpes simplex virus to a baby during pregnancy. since the risk of infection is great, HSV antibody testing is recommended during pregnancy.
It is still possible for women with genital herpes to have children. 20 to 25% of babies are born of women having genital herpes. But the unborn child is posed to the risks of a herpes simplex virus infection given certain conditions. Knowing important information regarding the risks of genital herpes infection can help a mother make the right decisions.
There are certain risk factors that the herpes simplex virus will be transmitted to the baby. (1) During delivery, the baby was exposed to the mother's herpes lesions, (2) If the mother was able to develop the herpes simplex virus antibodies during pregnancy, (3) Before the time of delivery, if the baby was able to acquire the herpes simplex virus antibodies from the mother.
When a pregnant woman has a first outbreak experience of genital herpes on her third trimester of pregnancy and was not able to develop the herpes simplex virus antibodies, there is a 33% chance of a virus transmission to the baby.
On the other hand, a pregnant woman having a recurrent outbreak of genital herpes but already has herpes simplex virus antibodies and the unborn child has also acquired the antibodies, there is a 3% chance of virus transmission to the baby.
When a woman has genital herpes and has developed the herpes simplex virus antibodies, an outbreak of genital herpes may not occur. During pregnancy, a woman's immune system is down and she may experience the first outbreak of genital herpes during this time. This outbreak is dangerous to the unborn child. Approximately 80% of pregnant women with genital herpes experience an outbreak recurrence with an average of three recurrences.
Of the babies who have herpes simplex virus infection, less that one-third have mothers that have a genital herpes rash. The herpes simplex transmission usually happens during the mother's labor and delivery. Seven out of 10 neonatal herpes infections are acquired due to the mother's first asymptomatic outbreak.
The herpes simplex virus infection on babies has very dangerous effects. A primary infection with recurrent HSV-1 while at labor is transmitted to babies. This infection is limited only to the eyes, mouth, and mucous membranes. An HSV-2 primary infection to babies will affect the baby's central nervous system that will cause meningitis, development delay, seizures, and even death.
A pregnant woman with a genital herpes outbreak is recommended to undergo a cesarean section so the baby's exposure to the herpes simplex virus may be reduced. Antiviral medications are available for the treatment of genital herpes during pregnancy. Acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir are the medications your doctor might prescribe. An IV acyclovir is used to treat babies with herpes simplex virus.
Extra care must be taken for women with no genital herpes. Avoid sex with a partner that has or is suspected to have genital herpes. Consult with your obstetrician and ask for HSV antibody testing. It is better to be careful now than to feel sorry later.