Pregnancy with Chicken Pox

  • Prakash K. Mehta


Varicella infection in pregnancy has possibly devastating consequences for both women and their fetus. Chicken pox is transmitted by respiratory droplets and by direct personal contact with vesicle fluid or indirectly via fomites. The incubation period of chickenpox is 10–21 days. There is no difference in clinical presentation of chicken pox in pregnancy. The pregnant woman develops high fever that can last for up to 7 days. The diagnosis of varicella is usually made clinically. The transmission rate during maternal viremia has been estimated at approximately 25 %. The consequences for the infant depend on the time of maternal infection. Fetal involvement can be in three forms: (1) “varicella embryopathy,” (2) congenital varicella, and (3) neonatal disease. Prenatal diagnosis is by detailed ultrasound examination and detection of VZV DNA by PCR in amniotic fluid. Oral antiviral agents (acyclovir, valacyclovir, or famciclovir) have been shown to significantly reduce herpes-related symptoms as well as the duration, intensity, and prevalence of zoster-associated pain. If a pregnant woman is inadvertently vaccinated or becomes pregnant within 4 weeks after vaccination, she should be counseled about the theoretical basis of concern for the fetus; however, vaccination during pregnancy should not be considered a reason to terminate pregnancy. Varicella, the primary infection with varicella-zoster virus in pregnancy, may cause maternal mortality or serious morbidity. Mortality rates between 20 and 45 % were reported in the pre-antiviral era but have fallen to 3–14 % with antiviral therapy and improved intensive care.


Herpes Zoster Maternal Infection Varicella Vaccination Varicella Infection Monophosphate Form 
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Copyright information

© Springer India 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Maternal Fetal MedicineBhagwan Mahaveer Jain HospitalBangaloreIndia

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