As a child, having chickenpox used to be seen as a rite of passage. However, since its introduction in 1984, and since the regularity of use in the last twenty years, there is a significantly lower chance of catching chickenpox as a child or adolescent. While some view this immunity via vaccination as a good thing, many others question whether or not the medical profession should have messed with natural inoculation. This concern is most significant to women of childbearing age because of the threat that chickenpox can have on the mother and her unborn baby.
- Chickenpox is a contagious viral illness that has the potential to cause life-threatening effects on the baby, as well as put the expectant mother at risk for pneumonia. The timing of exposure to chickenpox during a woman’s pregnancy plays a substantial role in how this condition may affect the mother and baby.
- Mothers who are exposed to chickenpox during weeks eight to twenty face a slight risk of a rare group of serious birth defects known as congenital varicella syndrome. Congenital varicella syndrome leaves an unborn baby vulnerable to developing skin scarring, underdeveloped limbs, inflammation of the eyes, and incomplete brain development.
- Mothers who are exposed to chickenpox during the period of a few days before to 48 hours after delivery face the chance that their baby may be born with a potentially life-threatening infection called neonatal varicella.
Expectant mothers who are exposed to chickenpox at any time during their pregnancy should contact their OB-GYN immediately. Depending on your situation and the timing during your pregnancy, an injection of an immune globulin product that contains antibodies to the chickenpox virus may be advised. This immune globulin can prevent chickenpox from breaking out or reduce its severity when given within 10 days of exposure.
At Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A., we are here for our patients at every point throughout their pregnancies. We not only understand what a momentous occasion a pregnancy is in your life, but we also understand that complications and unexpected situations can arise during those nine months. Our practice is proud to have qualified doctors, nurses, and staff who are sensitive to your needs and who provide the experience and expertise that your pregnancy requires. Please contact our practice today to schedule an appointment.