Pregnancy And Chickenpox – Learn About The Causes And Find Out What You Can Do
Chicken pox is not a common concern during pregnancy but did you know that having a chicken pox during this period can also cause harm to your baby? Chicken pox is said to be very rare during pregnancy. In the United Kingdom, research shows that it affects 3 in every 1000 pregnant women which is equivalent to 0.3% only. Furthermore, over 90% of pregnant women are immune to chicken pox since they had it during childhood.
Chicken Pox during Pregnancy
Pregnant women who have a history of chicken pox, or those who had taken a chicken pox immunization should be less worried. According to research, 8090% of these women contain antibodies which make them immune against chicken pox. Exposure to people infected with chicken pox during pregnancy should not even cause you a worry.
Chicken Pox Immunization
A single dose of chicken pox vaccine is said to be effective in preventing 8085% of all chicken pox severe cases. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) is now recommending two doses of chicken pox vaccine as they provide maximum benefits in protecting the body against the invasion of varicella virus and chicken pox infection.
Risks Associated with Chicken Pox during Pregnancy
On the other hand, chicken pox infection occurring during first trimester of pregnancy, especially from the 8th12th week, puts the baby at a greater risk for congenital varicella syndrome. It is a syndrome of birth defects that occur in infants.
A baby with congenital varicella syndrome may grow poorly in the uterus. Later on, the baby may suffer from mental and physical developmental disabilities. This disease is commonly represented by skin scarring. Other manifestations include small limbs, low birth weight, small head, eye problems and mental retardation.
Furthermore, research shows that chicken pox may cause foetal varicella syndrome (FVS) in 12% of the babies born. FVS can actually cause significant damage on the baby’s arms, legs, eyes, bowel, bladder and brain.
Chicken Pox on the Third Trimester of Pregnancy
However, if chicken pox strikes about 5 days before and 2 days after the delivery, it can be dangerous to your baby. Your body may be able to produce antibodies against the virus however, your baby doesn’t have enough time to absorb these antibodies.
While most pregnant women are not highly susceptible to chicken pox due to vaccine which gives them immunity, research shows that getting a chicken pox 2 days after and 5 days before the delivery date exposes the baby to a greater risk for a disseminated varicella infection.
There is a 1730% probability that the baby would develop a condition known as neonatal varicella which can really be lifethreatening and serious when left untreated. To prevent severe cases of this condition, infants are normally given with a shot of varicella zoster immune globulin, a blood product containing chicken pox antibodies.
Women who had chicken pox on or after the 36th week of pregnancy are most likely to give birth to babies with chicken pox.
Complications of Chicken Pox during Pregnancy
Getting a chicken pox on the third trimester of your pregnancy can be life threatening to pregnant women. It increases women’s risk for chicken pox pneumonia which is a major risk factor for preterm delivery. Cigarette smoking during this period also increases one’s risk for preterm delivery.
Aside from pneumonia, chicken pox also increases the pregnant women’s risk for the inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), heart muscles (myocarditis), appendix (appendicitis), pancreas (pancreatitis), liver (hepatitis) and kidneys (glomerulonephritis).
What Should You Do When Symptoms of Chicken Pox Occurs
When diagnosed with chicken pox, pregnant women are normally prescribed with acyclovir, which is an antiviral drug. When symptoms of pneumonia begin to occur, call your doctor’s attention immediately as it can worsen your condition very rapidly. These symptoms of pneumonia include coughing, discomfort when breathing and rapid breathing.
How to Reduce Your Risk for Chicken Pox during Pregnancy
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All articles on the blog and website are intended as information only. Please do not consider any of the information provided here as a substitute for medical advice. At all times seek medical advice directly with your own doctor and medical team.