13 Dec Chicken pox in pregnancy
Becoming pregnant is one of the finest feelings a woman can experience. To have a memorable experience it is very necessary to stay fit and healthy. There are times when you just can’t stay away from the various types of illness. One out of them is chicken pox. Chicken pox is a highly contagious viral infection that can lead to serious illness at the time of pregnancy. There are ways to protect you and your baby if you are at risk for chicken pox.
This is a viral infection also known as varicella. The infection gives a rash that looks like small red spots or watery blisters. Fever and body pain occurs before the appearance of the rash. The blisters dry up and crust and then heal. The whole process takes about two weeks.
Who is at risk for getting chicken pox during pregnancy?
- You are immune to chicken pox if you have been infected with chicken pox once before. Women who had chicken pox earlier will not get the infection again(they have immunity against chicken pox virus).
- If you have not been infected by chicken pox ever and you are pregnant then there are chances that you may contract the virus. So, avoid getting in contact with anyone suffering from chicken pox.
Why is it vital to prevent chickenpox during pregnancy?
For the mother
To have chicken pox during pregnancy is really very unpleasant even if you have no complications. Majority of women do not get complications related to chicken pox infection in pregnancy. However sometimes complications may arise and these are mentioned below (pregnant women are more prone to get complications due to chicken pox in pregnancy as compared to non-pregnant women).
- Pneumonia (infection of the lungs).
- Wide spread chicken pox infection involving many organs in the body like brain, kidney, pancreas etc. These complications are life threatening and would involve intensive care unit admission and management in the hospital.
For the baby
If the infection occurs in first six months of pregnancy then there can be (chances are very less) that the unborn baby may develop a problem called fetal varicella syndrome (FVS). This can lead to very serious abnormalities like:
- Eye problems
- Scars on the skin
- Abnormal growth of arms and legs
- Problem with development of brain
For detection of this problem in the unborn babies monitoring by serial ultrasounds or special tests may be needed.
- If you have chickenpox before or after 7 days of giving birth then there are chances that your newborn baby may develop chicken pox and will then require treatment. There are immunizations to stop this from happening.
- Many unborn babies catch this infection while they are in their mother’s womb. There are chances that some newborn babies who develop chickenpox die from the infection.
Can pregnant women be vaccinated against chicken pox in pregnancy?
The chicken pox vaccine cannot be given to pregnant women. Women who have received chicken pox vaccine should avoid getting pregnant for about three months after vaccination.
Many pregnant women who get chicken pox recover properly and have healthy babies. It is advisable to visit your doctor as soon as you suspect that you are suffering from chicken pox when you are pregnant or after 7 days of giving birth. If you have any of the following, see a doctor immediately, as you may need treatment in hospital:
- Severe spots (a severe rash)
- A bleeding rash
- Chest/breathing problems
- Being sick (vomiting)
- Bleeding from your vagina
If you have any questions about Chicken pox during pregnancy and ways to deal with it then you can schedule an appointment with Triveni Obs and Gynae clinic/ Dr. Manavita Mahajan at Galleria DLF phase 4, Gurgaon. We recommend that all non-immune women should consider immunization against chickenpox before they become pregnant, or soon after they give birth.