Shingles During Pregnancy

Many mothers fear getting an infection let alone

Shingles During Pregnancy

and with good reason. It is well known that certain viruses can be transmitted to the fetus through the mother’s blood or can be acquired by the baby before or during delivery.

Maternal varicella can be risky for the child not yet born, depending on the stage of pregnancy where the mother gets the disease. During the first 30 weeks, maternal chickenpox cases can lead to congenital malformation. But such cases are rare and experts disagree on what level of risk. With younger people contracting shingles this is a concern.

If the mother becomes infected with chickenpox or shingles during pregnancy between 5 to 21 days before giving birth, the newborn may suffer from chickenpox at birth or develop within a few days, as indicated above. But the time lag between the onset of the illness of the mother and the birth of the baby generally allows the mother’s immune system to react and produces antibodies to fight the virus. These antibodies can be transmitted to the unborn baby and that way you can ward off infection. Despite this, a third of babies exposed to chickenpox within 5 to 21 days before birth develop shingles in the first 5 years of life because the virus must also be fought by immune cells.

What happens if the mother contracts chickenpox at the precise moment of birth? In this case, the mother’s immune system has not had a chance to mobilize its forces. Although some of the maternal antibodies are transmitted to the newborn through the placenta, the infant will have little ability to fight the virus because their immature immune system. For these babies chickenpox can be fatal.

If the mother does contract shingles during pregnancy once the baby is born, one option would be for Zoster immune globulin to be given, a preparation extracted from the antibody-rich blood of adults recovering from chickenpox or shingles.