Shingles and Pregnancy - What You Need To Know

Published: 26th August 2010
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Pregnancy is always a time when a woman should be extra careful with her health and well being. This is because sickness or getting exposed to diseases during pregnancy may harm both the mother and the unborn child. It is no wonder then that some women are naturally concerned over shingles and pregnancy.

Shingles and Pregnancy

Medical advice seems to vary on the degree of caution that pregnant women should exercise when they are around people with shingles. Shingles and pregnancy do not often occur together unless a pregnant woman has had chicken pox before and has a severely weakened immune system. Even then shingles and pregnancy do not often happen at the same time.

It is also a fact that pregnant women who have had chicken pox before are immune to the shingles virus so there is no danger of chicken pox or shingles and pregnancy happening together. Even those however who have not had chicken pox in the past cannot get infected with the shingles and chicken pox virus just by being around someone with shingles. A pregnant woman without a prior infection of chickenpox can only be infected with the virus and get chicken pox through direct contact with fresh shingles blisters.

Chicken Pox, Shingles and Pregnancy

Shingles and pregnancy does not seem to be as alarming as chicken pox and pregnancy. This is because shingles is not dangerous if one has only had casual contact with a person with shingles. Chicken pox on the other hand can be transmitted even through casual contact or being around the same room as someone with chicken pox. This means that a pregnant woman who has not had chicken pox and has not been vaccinated against chicken pox has a high risk of getting the disease from an infected individual.

Chicken Pox During Pregnancy

Although shingles and pregnancy happening at the same time is not a frequent occurrence, some pregnant women have been known to have chicken pox. It is actually possible to recover from chicken pox while pregnant. It is also possible to deliver a normal baby even if the mother has been sick with chicken pox. There have been cases however when chicken pox can result in health complications for both the mother and the baby. Pregnant women who are sick with chicken pox may develop pneumonia or encephalitis. Babies too may be born with some abnormalities. Chicken pox during pregnancy is therefore dangerous.

What You Should Do

The effects of the chicken pox virus on an unborn child may be most critical if a pregnant woman is within 3-5 months pregnant. A pregnant woman who has never had chicken pox and who comes in contact with a person with chicken pox or singles should see a doctor as soon as possible, preferably before you develop chicken pox or within the day you see initial signs of chicken pox. Depending on the severity of your illness and the term of your pregnancy, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medication or medicines that can suppress the virus.

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