Bacterial and viral infections can be quite a concern, especially during pregnancy, when you and your baby are at the most vulnerable stage. Parvovirus B19 is, as the name suggests, a virus that may affect women during the pregnancy period.
Let’s take a closer look at what the Parvovirus B19 during pregnancy really does.
What Is Parvovirus B19?
Parvoviruses are known to be the smallest DNA-containing viruses which infect mammals. This virus is believed to be quite resistant to normal modes of killing viruses such as freezing and disinfecting, and commonly affects children between the age of 3-15 years. (1)
Parvovirusmay also cause the development of a condition known as slapped cheek syndrome or the Fifth Disease if it infects a woman during pregnancy. While it poses no health risks to the woman, it may sometimes, increase certain complications associated with pregnancy. (2) Parvovirus B19 in pregnancy can be harmful for the baby.
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Just like other viral conditions, the Parvovirus infection also spreads through direct or indirect contact with an affected individual, particularly with airborne droplets that spread through coughing and sneezing. Pregnant women may also transfer the virus to their baby. (3)
Signs And Symptoms Of Parvovirus B19 And Pregnancy:
In many cases, individuals affected by Parvovirus B19 may exhibit mild or no symptoms at all. Typical symptoms associated with the Fifth Disease include joint pain and swelling, rashes etc. These rashes are particularly seen on the hands, wrists, knees and both sides of the body.
In case of infection in individuals with a weakened immune system, prolonged infection may be seen. (4)
[ Read: Cytomegalovirus During Pregnancy ]
Possible Complications Of Parvovirus B19 During Pregnancy :
An increased risk of miscarriage has been found in pregnant women who are affected by the ParvovirusB19 Infection, particularly during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
A small risk of the baby developing Fetal Hydrops has also been found in cases where pregnant women become infected during 9-20 weeks of pregnancy. Fetal Hydrops is a concerning condition where excess and abnormal fluid levels develop in the baby, which may lead to complications like anaemia and heart failure.
The Parvovirus B19 infection during pregnancy has not been found to cause any developmental defects or problems during birth or later in childhood. (5)
Chronic congenital anaemia is also noted in the fetus when the mother is infected by the virus. (6)
Management And Treatment Of Parvovirus Infection:
Following diagnosis, the doctor may suggest an ultrasound scanning and a Doppler assessment to monitor the growth of the baby. Early delivery of the baby may be recommended if the baby is near full term. Corticosteroid medications may also be advised. (7)
For now, there is no intervention to prevent fetal infection or damage associated with Maternal Parvovirus Infection. This is mostly due to a very low risk of damage to the fetus. However, repeated ultrasound examinations are advised, and if Fetal Hydrops is seen, intrauterine transfusion may also be advised. (8)
Prevention Of Parvovirus Infection:
There is no vaccine available to tackle the Parvovirus Infection. If you are infected once, you acquire lifelong immunity to the disease. Making sure you wash your hands regularly before eating and maintaining proper personal hygiene, are some simple steps you can take to prevent the Parvovirus Infection. (9)
If a family member is affected by the disease, make sure you avoid coming in contact with the discharges from the nose or the throat, and clean surfaces contaminated by these discharges to prevent the spread of the virus. Pregnant women who are particularly concerned about their risk of the infection can get a test done to detect any previous infection and therefore immunity against the virus. Approximately 50% of pregnant women are already affected by the virus before their pregnancy, and are immune to it. (10)
Parvovirus infection is not a serious health concern in most cases, but if you’re particularly bothered, you could have a talk with your doctor.
Got any experiences to share about this condition? Let us know in the comments box below.
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