A current study showed that about 20 percent of pregnant women experience the effects of genital herpes. Contracting the genital herpes virus during pregnancy does not necessarily indicate that the child will be born with physical deficiencies. Oftentimes, women infected by this ailment wind up producing a healthy child. The likelihood of an infected pregnant woman spreading the virus to the infant is low. Research has revealed that the chances of the baby contracting the virus are between 20 and 30 percent.
Although the chances of becoming infected with the virus are low, preventative measures must be taken in order to make certain that the infant doesn’t contract the virus. Factors contributing to spreading the herpes infection to the infant include:
- At the time of delivery, the baby is exposed to lesions from the herpes virus.
- The risk of transmitting the herpes virus becomes much higher if the mother hasn’t produced antibodies during pregnancy. If there are antibodies present, then the risk of the baby contracting the herpes virus are reduced.
- If the infant has enough time to obtain the antibodies produced by the mother prior to delivery, then the child most likely will not become infected. If the mother contracts the virus early in her pregnancy and within the first two trimesters of pregnancy, then there may be sufficient time to produce the antibodies necessary to prevent passing the virus on to the unborn child. Women who contract the herpes virus in their final trimester will not have enough time to produce the essential antibodies that are necessary to prevent the child from contracting the virus.
- The chances of transmitting the disease are highest for pregnant women who contract the virus late in their pregnancy. The chances of spreading the virus are very low for women who contracted the virus prior to becoming pregnant. In many cases, women that have an outbreak of the virus numerous times during pregnancy, shockingly do not transmit the virus throughout the body. This is due to the fact that the mother didn’t contract the virus during delivery. Women that have been suffering from the herpes virus over a long period of time eventually build up immunity against the herpes virus. In these cases, the infant rarely becomes infected with the herpes virus.
Treatment for the herpes virus during pregnancy involves using anti-viral medications. These medications have proven effective in controlling and preventing the outbreak of genital herpes. The side effects caused from taking these medications are rare, ensuring that they are safe to use. Birth defects that may develop as a result of taking these medications are minor, so this is nothing to be concerned about. The medications used in the treatment of the herpes virus include:
A recent study administered acyclovir to 1000 women, and they all showed minor side effects. Therefore, several doctors recommend using acyclovir to their patients that are suffering from herpes during pregnancy.
Genital Herpes Virus Affecting the Baby:
If the virus happens to be passed to the infant, the child could develop some health problems. Although in most cases only a minor skin rash is observed. If there’s a rash on the eyes or mouth, this could be an indication that the baby has been infected with herpes. In some cases the virus spreads, affecting the entire body. Any infant that is suspected to have contracted the herpes virus should be administered IV acyclovir. Additionally, the particular type of the herpes virus that was contracted will determine the parts of the body that could become infected. If the infant becomes affected with HSV-2, it could affect the central nervous system. This can lead to meningitis, seizures, or death. Some babies suffer the effects of mental retardation; however, if these babies are treated with anti-viral medicine in a timely manner, then they are much more likely to escape permanent impairment.