Chicken Pox During Pregnancy
Many of us suffer from the dreaded chicken pox as a children. Just thinking about all that itching and scratching and calamine lotion strikes terror in many of our hearts! Statistics show that 80-90% of women are already protected against the virus. But if you were lucky enough to miss out on chicken pox as a child, you may be in store for a bout with it during pregnancy.
The Risks of Exposure
If you've already had chicken pox, your body has the antibodies to defend against the virus and so you're probably immune. Even if you haven't, research indicates that 95% of adults in America are immune, even if they're not aware of it. If you're worried, get your practitioner to test for chicken pox.
What if You do Get Chicken Pox?
There's a small chance that it can affect your baby. Within the first half of your pregnancy there is a slight risk of getting congenital varicella syndrome. This can cause defects such as skin scarring, limb malformations, eye problems and other malformations in the developing baby. Luckily, the chances are as low as 1-2%.
If you get chicken pox in the second half of your pregnancy, or up to five days before you give birth, you have no reason to worry. After contracting chicken pox, your body releases antibodies to fight the virus after five days. These antibodies will reach the baby through the placenta. The only danger is if you contract chicken pox within five days of giving birth. This means your baby has not yet received your antibodies and will be born with newborn chicken pox. This can be serious, but the risk is diminished if the newborn is treated with varicella zoster immune globulin (VZIG). If you think you've been infected with chicken pox, call your practitioner right away.
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