Herpes Simplex Virus and Pregnancy

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) can pose specific risks during pregnancy, especially if a woman contracts the virus for the first time during pregnancy or if there is an active outbreak during childbirth. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Transmission: HSV can be transmitted from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth. This is particularly risky if the mother has an active outbreak of genital herpes lesions at the time of delivery.
  2. Complications for the Baby: Neonatal herpes, which is herpes infection in newborns, can be severe and even life-threatening. It can lead to serious complications such as brain damage, blindness, and even death.
  3. Timing of Infection: If a pregnant woman is infected with HSV for the first time during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester, the risk of transmitting the virus to the baby is higher compared to women who have had the infection before becoming pregnant.
  4. Management and Prevention: Pregnant women with a history of genital herpes should inform their healthcare providers. They may be prescribed antiviral medications to reduce the risk of outbreaks during pregnancy and to lower the risk of transmission to the baby during childbirth. If a woman experiences symptoms of a herpes outbreak near the time of delivery, her healthcare provider may recommend a cesarean delivery (C-section) to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to the baby.
  5. Routine Screening: Some healthcare providers may recommend routine screening for HSV during pregnancy, especially for women with a history of genital herpes or whose partners have the virus.
  6. Breastfeeding: In general, women with genital herpes can breastfeed safely, as long as there are no active lesions on the breasts. The herpes virus is not transmitted through breast milk.

It’s crucial for pregnant women to discuss any concerns or questions about HSV with their healthcare providers to ensure appropriate management and care throughout pregnancy and childbirth.

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