It is the dream of every mother to carry her pregnancy to full terms and deliver a healthy baby. However, when an expectant mother contracts herpes virus, the baby stands a chance of contacting the virus too. The risk further increases when an episode coincides with the last few weeks to delivery.
Unlike in adults, genital herpes in babies carries serious help complications including death.
How to Reduce Mother to Infant Transmission Risks
Expectant mothers with herpes simplex 2 infection stand a chance of infecting the child with the viral disease too. Although the risk involved is small, precaution must be taken to safeguard the child. Here are ways to reduce the risks even further:
- Mother contracts the disease prior to pregnancy
Although mother to infant infection is possible, the chance is very slim if the mother had contracted the virus prior to the conception of the child. Having acquired the virus before pregnancy, the mother will have developed antibodies against the disease and thus passes them over to the child via the placenta. That helps to shield the child the child from infection to a certain degree.
However, if an outbreak coincides with the time of delivery, the risks are higher. Thus a protective antiviral treatment is often given from the 36th week of pregnancy.
- Mother contracts the disease during the first or second trimester
Contracting the infection in the first or second trimester for the initial time, increase the infant’s infection risk. Thus a suppressive treatment must be administered to prevent an episode occurring during the time of delivery.
- Mother contracts the virus during the third trimester
Contracting the virus in the third trimester carries a higher risk. That’s especially true if it’s the first time. A suppressive treatment will be administered. If the episode occurs in the last six weeks of expected delivery date, a cesarean delivery may be necessary
- Having lesion during labor time
If the expectant mother has active herpes liaison in the vulva or cervix when experiencing labor, the vaginal secretions will contain the virus, consequently, the precautionary measures are necessary;
A birth canal delivery is highly inappropriate. The fluids from the birth canal are certainly to be infected too. If they come into contact with the baby’s mouth, eyes or anybody opening, an infection is certain.
Instead of using the scalp electrodes, another external means of determining the feta’s heart rate. The electrodes might puncture a tiny hole into the scalp thus giving an easy entrance of the virus into the body.
Similarly, forceps are also discouraged in such an instance unless medically deemed necessary.
The Dangers of Genital Herpes to the Newborn Child
The herpes simplex 2 infection in newborns might manifest itself in any of the following ways;
- Central nervous system disease, CNS
The infection usually occurs about three weeks after delivery. But it can occur also any time from the delivery date to six weeks later. The symptoms of the CNS disease in newborn include;
- Poor feeding
- Skin eye mouth infection SEM
Most babies with the disease develop skin eye mouth infection. Usually, at birth, such babies bear sores on the skin. If the sores aren’t present at birth they show up later at the age of 2 weeks to 6 weeks.
Although the herpes lesion may show up on any part of the body, most develop on areas that had received minor skin injuries. When treatment begins right away, the child s development is unaffected.
- Disseminated disease
The infection involves multiple organs in newborn, usually lungs or liver. It normally develops a week after birth, bears no symptoms but it’s a deadly disease. Most children who develop the infections either die or develop lifetime health challenges.
Herpes might lead to serious health problems for the infant. Thus an expectant mother who hasn’t contracted the virus should exercise precautionary measures to protect her self from the infections.
The precautionary measures include the following
- Have your partner tested to know his status
- If he has fever blisters refrain from engaging in oral sex with him
- If you develop sores in the genital region and thus suspect to have contracted the infection, inform your doctor immediately.
- In case your spouse has genital herpes, do not engage in sex during the episodes. Otherwise when the outbreak is over, used condoms every time you engage in sex