Chickenpox During Pregnancy - Causes, Symptoms, Risks & Treatments

Chickenpox During Pregnancy

Image : Shutterstock

Are you expecting your baby soon? Are you losing sleep worrying about possible infections and impairments? Are you aware that your immunity is lower during pregnancy, and you are more susceptible to contagious diseases? Have you taken the necessary vaccinations to safeguard the health and development of your baby?

Leading a healthy lifestyle and consuming a balanced diet is necessary during your pregnancy. However, it may not be enough to protect yourself and your little one from diseases and infections. One of the most dangerous viral infections to look out for is Chickenpox. Read on to know why is chicken pox dangerous during pregnancy and how it spells danger for your baby.

Why Is Chickenpox A Potential Threat During Pregnancy?

While pregnant, you are vulnerable to many infections. It is because your physiological system works hard to produce 50 percent more blood. Hence, your immune system is weak making you prone to ailments. Fortunately, there are ways to guard oneself against such infections and the manifestations of chickenpox.

Causes of Chickenpox:

Chickenpox is a highly contagious infection that can affect your growing baby. A virus known as varicella spreads it. If you have taken prior vaccination, you are less likely to contract chickenpox. However, your weaker immune system during pregnancy may aggravate the possibility of contracting the infection despite the vaccination you took early on in life.

[ Read: Shingles In Pregnancy ]

Risk Factors to Contract Chickenpox:

Recent studies indicate that almost 95 percent of women are immune to chickenpox infection, in their fertile years. The following factors make you more prone to contract the infection during pregnancy:

  • Chickenpox in the past increases the chances of you contracting the infection once again.
  • No prior history of chickenpox makes it likely for you to contract it during your pregnancy.
  • If you are unsure about your immunity to chickenpox, your doctor may suggest a blood test to confirm the presence of antibodies that fight the infection.

Symptoms of Chickenpox:

These are the common symptoms of chickenpox:

  • Initial reddish rash may appear on the body.
  • Small reddish spots or pimples that start spreading all over the body.
  • Unexplained fever, body ache, and chills.

[ Read: Rashes During Pregnancy ]

Risks Of Chickenpox During Pregnancy:

Contracting chickenpox during pregnancy poses a serious threat to the growth and development of your baby. The magnitude of the risk depends largely on your trimester.

  • Risk of birth defects during your first trimester are 0.5 to 1%
  • Risk of birth defects in between 13th and 20th week is 2%
  • Risk of infection to your baby is 25% if chickenpox occurs within five days of delivery. Doctors refer such cases as congenital varicella.
  • Risk of contracting chickenpox from you is very strong for the baby, if the infection occurs within 6 to 12 days before delivery.

[ Read: Viral Infection In Pregnancy ]

Possible Birth Defects Due To Chickenpox:

Chickenpox during pregnancy can cause the following birth defects in the baby:

  • Scars on the body
  • Visual impairment
  • Abnormal growth
  • Small head
  • Cognitive defects

Things to Do When You Have Chickenpox during Pregnancy:

Early identification of symptoms is necessary to initiate a speedy treatment for chickenpox. Here are a few things that will help prevent chickenpox in early pregnancy:

  • Your body will have pre-existing antibodies in case you have had chickenpox infection earlier. It will help protect your baby.
  • If you have not taken any prior vaccination, your doctor may recommend a shot of zoster immune globulin (ZIG) during your pregnancy. Doctors need to administer the shot within four days of exposure to the infection.

[ Read: Torch Infection In Pregnancy ]

Remember if you see suspicious red spots on your body, you need to rush to the hospital immediately. It is always better to raise the alarm and consult your doctor if you even remotely suspect chickenpox when pregnant. Inform your doctor about your vaccination history so that she can plan an appropriate line of treatment, keeping your pregnancy in mind. Timely medical help can prevent any birth defects and safeguard the health and development of your baby.

If you have suffered from chickenpox during your pregnancy, please share your experience in the comment box below!

Recommended Articles:

The following two tabs change content below.
Profile photo of Deepa Balasubramanian

Deepa Balasubramanian

Featured Image