If a woman with genital herpes has virus present in the birth canal during delivery, herpes simplex virus (HSV) can be spread to an infant, causing neonatal herpes, a serious and sometimes fatal condition. Less than 0.1 of babies born in the United States each year get neonatal herpes. Babies are most at risk for neonatal herpes if the mother contracts genital herpes late in pregnancy. Herpes can also be spread to the baby in the first weeks of life if he or she is kissed by someone with an active cold sore (oral herpes). Genital herpes during pregnancy can cause serious problems for you and your baby. Learn the causes, symptoms and treatments for genital herpes. You can pass the herpes virus to your baby during labor and birth. This can cause serious health problems for a baby, including a deadly infection. It’s the most common way babies get infected with the herpes. A baby can get infected without passing through the vagina, but this is rare. This virus causes most cases of genital herpes. It spreads through sex and skin-to-skin contact. While neonatal herpes is rare, women who know they have genital herpes are often concerned about the possibility of transmitting the virus to their babies at birth. Since the highest risk to an infant comes when the mother contracts HSV-1 or 2 during pregnancy, you can take steps to ensure that you don’t transmit herpes during this crucial time. That’s the major reason that mothers with recurrent genital herpes rarely transmit herpes to their babies during delivery. Studies show that most cases of neonatal herpes occur in babies whose mothers don’t have any idea they are infected.
Reassurances about Genital Herpes during pregnancy and birth. Herpes simplex is most often spread to an infant during birth if the mother has HSV in the birth canal during delivery. HSV can also be spread to the baby if he or she is kissed by someone with an active cold sore. HSV can cause neonatal herpes (babies up to 28 days old, infected by herpes), a rare but life-threatening disease. You can transmit herpes to your baby during labor and delivery if you’re contagious, or shedding virus, at that time. In rare cases, a pregnant woman may transmit the infection to her baby through the placenta if she gets herpes for the first time in her first trimester. If you first get genital herpes late in pregnancy and blood tests confirm you’ve never had it before, some experts recommend having a cesarean section even if you don’t have symptoms when you go into labor. My Pregnancy & Baby Today Mom Feed. Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection, caused by the herpes simplex virus (NHS Choices 2014a). People can get repeated outbreaks of the blisters and sores, but these tend to be milder than the first attack (NHS Choices 2014b, RCOG 2014a). So your baby can catch herpes during the birth, from contact with the virus in or around your vagina. In a few, very rare cases, neonatal herpes can be severe enough to put a baby’s life at risk (RCOG 2014b).
It can affect pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. Can I get rid of herpes? The herpes virus can pass through a break in your skin during vaginal, oral, or anal sex. It can enter the moist membranes of the penis, vagina, urinary opening, cervix, or anus. Sores heal more quicklywithin 37 days in most cases. However, the baby could get infected by touching a blister or sore on the mother’s breast. See also: Antiviral Medication for Genital Herpes written for patients. Neonatal herpes refers to infection acquired around the time of birth, whereas congenital herpes refers to infection acquired in utero and is extremely rare. The quoted risk of neonatal herpes when the baby is delivered vaginally within six weeks following maternal primary infection is 41. Remember there may not be obvious symptoms in the mother and HSV can be transmitted through asymptomatic viral shedding, and indeed this is most often the case. Most mums-to-be with genital herpes give birth to healthy babies. This immunity is passed on to your baby while she’s still growing inside you. Remember that neonatal herpes is rare in Australia occurring in less than five births in 100,000 (VDH 2014). In the vast majority of cases, mums-to-be know they have genital herpes, and can get all the help they need to protect their babies.
Get The Facts About Being Pregnant And Genital Herpes In Pregnancy
Oral sex with an infected partner can transmit HSV-1 to the genital area. Most new cases of genital herpes infection do not cause symptoms, and many people infected with HSV-2 are unaware that they have genital herpes. Infants may get congenital herpes from a mother with an active herpes infection at the time of birth. Fortunately, if a woman does have genital lesions, rapid diagnostic blood tests can quickly determine her chances of transmitting the virus to her baby during delivery. Infections during pregnancy may be transmitted to newborns: HSV-1 and HSV-2 may cause eye or skin lesions, meningoencephalitis, disseminated infections, or foetal malformations. Moreover, studies in HIV-infected pregnant women show that coinfection with HSV increases significantly the risk of perinatal HIV transmission above all in women who had a clinical diagnosis of genital herpes during pregnancy 15 17. How can genital herpes affect your pregnancy and your baby? If left untreated, pregnant women with gonorrhea have an increased risk of miscarriage and premature birth. Babies born while the mother is infected can get eye infections that may lead to blindness. In very rare cases, a mother can pass HPV to her baby during childbirth. Genital Herpes doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t give birth vaginally. If you caught the infection pre-pregnancy, it is likely that your immune system will protect your baby during pregnancy. If the baby has not received protection via your immune system, there is a chance that the virus could be transmitted during the birth. In most cases of neonatal herpes, the mother has not been diagnosed at the time of the birth. This is a very rare occurrence. Most new cases of genital herpes infection do not cause symptoms, and many people infected with HSV-2 are unaware that they have genital herpes. During those times, the virus can be passed into bodily fluids and infect other people. This close-up view of early herpes outbreak shows small, grouped blisters (vesicles) and lots of inflammation (erythema). The baby is at greatest risk during a vaginal delivery, especially if the mother has an asymptomatic infection that was first introduced late in the pregnancy. It is possible to pass the infection to a sexual partner without the appearance of symptoms or sores. If a female has a known case of genital herpes, conception can be planned when symptoms are absent in both partners. Genital herpes is transmitted skin to skin to an infant during a vaginal delivery and rarely affects the unborn child in the womb. A cesarean section delivery would be scheduled for a pregnant mother with known genital herpes to prevent the newborn from coming in direct contact with the vaginal vault.
Managing genital herpes during pregnancy is very important to the health of the soon-to-be-born infant. Infants exposed to the herpes simplex can experience brain infection, seizures, prolonged hospitalization, mental retardation, and death if the infection takes hold. Finally, less antibody is transmitted from the mother to the baby during a primary infection as opposed to during a recurrent outbreak (this is called transferring passive immunity to the baby, which involves the transmission of antibody through the placenta from the mother to the baby)2. In this small percentage of cases due to transmission shortly after delivery, persons with cold sores on their mouths or herpes lesions on their hands have apparently played a part in transmitting the infection to babies3. Neonatal herpes simplex is a rare but serious condition, usually caused by vertical transmission of herpes simplex virus from mother to newborn. CNS herpes is an infection of the nervous system and the brain that can lead to encephalitis. See alsoedit. Can I pass herpes simplex to a partner if I have no symptoms? The only way to find out what is causing a genital problem is to go to a clinic or doctor. In rare cases there may be urinary retention during a first outbreak and a catheter may be needed but this does not mean that it is considered to be medically serious. Having herpes does not mean that you will not be able to have children (whether you are male or female). If a woman is having an outbreak during labor and delivery and there is an active herpes outbreak in or near the birth canal, the doctor will do a cesarean section to protect the baby. Mothers who acquire genital herpes in the last few weeks of pregnancy are at the highest risk of transmitting the virus.
Here’s how your doctor will treat herpes during pregnancy and birth. In the rare case a newborn is infected, transmission most often occurs when the baby passes through the mother’s infected birth canal. How can mother-to-child transmission be prevented to improve outcomes? In rare cases, herpes can be spread from mother to child during delivery (see Genital Herpes and Pregnancy). Herpes is not transmitted by sitting on contaminated toilet seats, by hot tubs or swimming pools, or through other kinds of non-intimate contact.