with dr Tiphaine Beillat, gynaecologist
Chickenpox is most commonly associated with a childhood illness, but it can also be transmitted by adults, especially pregnant women. Does contracting chickenpox during pregnancy pose a risk to the expectant mother or unborn child? What is the best way to protect yourself? We explain everything about chickenpox in pregnancy with Dr. Tiphaine Beillat, gynaecologist.
First of all, it is important to remember that the risk of contracting chickenpox is small. As a matter of fact, It is estimated that 90% of the French population is immune to this disease before the age of 10. However, some adults may not have had chickenpox. If you are pregnant and in doubt, how do you know if chickenpox can affect you? There are several ways that Dr. Tiphaine Beilatt summarizes: “ If you are pregnant, do not hesitate to ask your parents if you contracted chickenpox as a child. If in doubt, the expectant mother can contact her doctor, who will carry out a serological test to determine whether chickenpox has already appeared. If this is the case, there is no need to worry if you have already been in contact with a chickenpox patient. ».
In the event that the mother-to-be has determined that she was not immune to chickenpox prior to pregnancy, it is possible to obtain an appropriate chickenpox vaccine with her doctor. The latter can at least be injected 3 months before pregnancy.
Can you get chickenpox twice?
While a single exposure to chickenpox usually confers lifelong immunity, there can be rare exceptions where you can get chickenpox a second time. These scenarios can occur if the person with chickenpox had it at a very young age. Similarly, immunocompromised people are also at risk of contracting chickenpox a second time.
Getting Chickenpox During Pregnancy: What Are the Risks of Contact with My Sick Child?
If there is no vaccination against chickenpox, you must remain vigilant to avoid coming into contact with people who have chickenpox. The infection is transmitted through airwayB. via saliva droplets or by direct contact with the pimples produced on the skin of patients. Most of these people at risk are children, as Tiphaine Beilla explains: ” Most cases of varicella virus transmission in expectant mothers are related to children. Often these are mothers who already have a small child who gets chickenpox when the child is pregnant with a little brother or sister. It is also difficult to protect against chickenpox as the latter has an incubation period. In fact, sick children experience the first symptoms (fever and pimples) 48 hours after they become contagious. ».
What Are the Symptoms of Chickenpox When Pregnant?
Symptoms of varicella virus in expectant mothers are somewhat similar to those seen in young children. After two days of the incubation period, a slight fever and blistering of the scalp appear. The appearance of pimples will also lead to it itching on the affected body parts. The varicella virus can also develop fatigue and muscle pain.
Risks: Is It Dangerous And Serious For A Pregnant Adult Woman To Have Chickenpox?
If these symptoms seem mild, chickenpox in pregnant women can pose other greater risks, both for the fetus and the mother. They can be very serious about the mother-to-be, as Tiphaine Beillat explains: ” In addition to the classic symptoms, pregnant women can experience shortness of breath and coughing, which can pose risks. ».
In addition to these consequences for the expectant mother, the unborn child can be severely affected depending on the time of the chickenpox pregnancy: ” It is necessary to distinguish between them congenital chickenpox and the neonatal varicella. The first will develop when the disease is contracted around the second trimester of pregnancy. The fetus will have birth defects, brain problems, eye lesions, or even growth retardation. The so-called chickenpox in newborns can occur if the patient falls ill with chickenpox in the days before the birth. In this case, there is a risk of very serious shingles and chickenpox, which can lead to the death of the child, especially due to pulmonary risks. “. If these consequences are indeed dangerous for the mother and the fetus, however, it should be emphasized that they remain rare.
So how are pregnant women cared for? It is important to have certain reflexes, as Tiphaine Beilla explains: “ If you have been in contact with someone who has chickenpox, you should do so contact your doctor immediately, This will first determine whether you are immune to chickenpox or not. If not, he or she will usually prescribe antiviral medications to limit the effects of the disease. At the same time, the condition of the fetus is very regularly monitored by ultrasound. In the rarer case of the mother contracting chickenpox towards the end of her pregnancy, care can be taken to delay the birth as much as possible so that the chickenpox is cured before the baby is born. ».
Also note that if you think you have been in contact with someone who has chickenpox, it is very important not to infect others: ” If you suspect chickenpox, DO NOT go to the maternity ward! Contact your doctor or gynecologist directly who can take care of you “Warn Tiphaine Beilat.