Herpes in Babies and Children

Genital herpes, if acquired at birth, can cause brain damage in babies and sometimes death. A study published by Brown et al., in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests that getting herpes during pregnancy has a much greater impact on the baby than having herpes at the onset of pregnancy, but the most dangerous is getting it late in the pregnancy.

When a woman has a first-time genital herpes infection within a month or two prior to delivery, her immune system doesn't have time to produce antibodies which would protect the baby during birth. In the study, nine women got the virus so late in the pregnancy that they didn't begin making antibodies before giving birth. Four of the babies were infected, including one who died.

Herpes is widespread and, according to the CDC, can look like other common skin conditions. Ninety percent of the people who have it don't know it and the infected teenage population is growing rapidly. Many people still believe that it can only be spread when there are visible sores, but the truth is the virus sheds even when there are no visible sores.

Don't risk it in late-stage pregnancy, and remember that, as with so many infectious diseases, most people living with the disease aren't even aware they're infected. That could include you.


Important disclaimer: The information on pkids.org is for educational purposes only and should not be considered to be medical advice. It is not meant to replace the advice of the physician who cares for your child. All medical advice and information should be considered to be incomplete without a physical exam, which is not possible without a visit to your doctor.

Information is the power
parents have over disease.