Introduction

Just because a woman has been diagnosed or has suffered from genital herpes (HSV-2) is not an indication that she will not be able to have children. According to the CDC, it is estimated that roughly 20% to 25% of pregnant women suffer from genital herpes, which is also commonly referred to as herpes simplex virus type 2. Whereas transmission from mother to child is quite common during delivery, it is important to point out that the HSV-2 is not a threat to an unborn child in particular scenarios. Learning more about the risks of herpes simplex virus – type two infections when planning to have a baby or during pregnancy, enables the mothers to be alongside their spouses to make the right decision to not only safeguard the child, but themselves.


HSV-2 Infections

The herpes simplex virus –type 2 can trigger a myriad of infections and is characterized by a number of features. Listed below, are some of the signs and symptoms commonly associated with herpes simplex virus:

- High fever.

- Soreness and formation of blisters around the genital area.

- Back aches.

- Headaches.

- Vaginal discharge.

- Pain while urinating.

The signs and symptoms are quite severe during the initial outbreak, which can take up to 3 weeks to clear without any form of medication. However, there are people who do not experience the signs and symptoms. As a matter of fact, it is believed that 60% of those who are infected with the herpes simplex virus do not experience the signs.

What Are the Risk Factors?

While genital herpes can be transmitted from mother to child during delivery, the risks of transmission hinges on a number of factors. For example:

- What is the exposure of the newborn child to the herpes abrasions during the delivery process?

- Does the mother have enough antibodies to safeguard the body against the herpes simplex virus?

- Did the infant acquire enough antibodies while in the womb?

The biggest worry is that a majority of patients have is that they may transmit herpes simplex virus to their newborn during the delivery process. But according to the CDC, cases of newborn herpes are quite rare. In the United States, it is estimated that there are roughly 1,500 infants that are born with genital herpes annually. In spite of the statistics, it is important to point out that the disease can be quite severe in infants. Therefore, if you have suffered from herpes or had sexual contact with an infected person or just did not know the status of the person, it is crucial that you consult a doctor. By doing so, you will be minimizing the chances of your baby becoming infected with the virus.

The disease can be transmitted from the mother to the child during the delivery process if the mother is contagious. The risk of transmission is increased further if the mother acquired the virus for the first time, especially between the 2nd and 3rd trimester.

Though quite rare, genital herpes can be transmitted to the unborn child through the placenta if the mother is a first-time HSV-2 sufferer. Babies who acquire genital herpes this way are at an increased risk of suffering from complications.


What is the Transmission Rates for Neonatal Herpes?

- Chances of contracting neonatal herpes are high if the initial outbreak occurs during the 3rd trimester. Since the body has not built enough antibodies, chances of transmission is increased by roughly 33%.

- Chances of transmitting neonatal herpes are decreased to 3% if the mother has suffered from a couple of recurrences and as such has passed the antibodies to the child.

A majority of neonatal herpes infection occur due to what is commonly referred to viral shedding. Therefore it is important that pregnant mothers go for STI testing so as to rule out chances of infection. In addition, persons who have suffered from genital herpes ought to consult a doctor before conceiving.


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