Chickenpox and Pregnancy: Are you at risk?


Are You & Your Unborn Child At Risk?


What is Chickenpox?

Chickenpox, which is also known as Varicella, is a well known infectious disorder. Chickenpox is one of the highly contagious disorders; that means Chickenpox easily spread from the patient to others. The patient infected with Chickenpox is highly contagious in the first 2 days before the actual symptoms of the disease appear on the patient, and Chickenpox is still contagious until all the blisters disappear.


How does Chickenpox occur during pregnancy?

Chickenpox has a latent period of about ten to twenty days after contact to have the actual symptoms. There are lots of possible ways to get infected with Chickenpox, for example, direct contact with ill patient or via air which is loaded with the causative virus after sneezing or uncovered coughing.


When Chickenpox happens during pregnancy?

Chickenpox can occur at any trimester throughout the course of pregnancy.  


How Chickenpox can affect my pregnancy or any part of it?

If an infection with Chickenpox occurs in the first trimester, Chickenpox may lead to serious birth defects; Congenital Varicella Syndrome. This syndrome is characterized with low birth weight of the fetus plus multiple scars all over his/her skin and multiple other disorders in both extremities, eyes and brain.


Possible symptoms of Chickenpox during pregnancy

The first rash appears on the face and upper half of your body, and then Chickenpox will spread all over your body. The rash itself is blister in shape. If the patient has already had the vaccine before infection, the rash will be minimal and it will look like multiple mosquito bites.
The normal duration of Chickenpox is about five to ten days. Other symptoms may occur; fever, itchy rash, recurrent vomiting and diarrhea thus dehydration, severe headache or other serious complications; for example severe pneumonia.
Some patients are in higher risk of having complicated Chickenpox, for example, patients with poor immunity, infants, chronic steroids users…
Bacterial infections is one of the serious complications of Chickenpox, it could be anywhere in the body; skin, lungs, bone, blood or even joints. Complications may be related to virus infections; viral pneumonia, Brain infections, bleeding disorders … etc.


Risks if Chickenpox is not detected during pregnancy

Pregnant women who suffer from Chickenpox are in high risk group of having serious complicated Chickenpox. About 10-20% of Chickenpox suffers among pregnant women will suffer from pneumonia; the possibility of death due to this complication may rise up to 40%.


When in Pregnancy is Chickenpox best tested?

The best time to check for Chickenpox is early in pregnancy to determine if you have been vaccinated against Chickenpox. Any of the following is sufficient to indicate good protection against Chickenpox infection:
1. 2 doses of vaccine
2. Sufficient amount of antibodies in the blood
3. Any medical report that indicates previous attack of Chickenpox or shingles


Impact of Chickenpox on the baby or my partner

As mentioned before, Chickenpox may lead to some complications on fetus, for example congenital varicella syndrome. On your partner, there is no direct effect except for getting the infection from you.


How can Chickenpox be avoided during pregnancy?

The best method to prevent Chickenpox during pregnancy is prophylaxis. You have to take the Chickenpox vaccine before getting pregnant; within about 3 months before pregnancy. Never ever take the vaccine during pregnancy!


Tips on managing Chickenpox for a safe delivery

1- If you are pregnant but you are not vaccinated against Chickenpox, you should avoid any direct contact with any infected patient.
2- All of your family members should be vaccinated against Chickenpox.
3- If you suspect getting Chickenpox, see medical help immediately.


*** The information contained here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment in any manner. Always seek the advice of your doctor with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition.


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