Got herpes? When contracted it could make all the difference when it comes to your baby's health.

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Most women think that having herpes during pregnancy is a fairly straightforward matter: If you have any sores when you go into labor, you’ll simply deliver by Cesarean section to avoid infecting your baby. Yet the issue is much more complicated than is often perceived.

For example, herpes is far more prevalent than is generally recognized, and many people don’t know they’re infected or that they can contract the virus from a partner who has no symptoms. What’s more, few people realize that contracting herpes during pregnancy can be very dangerous to the baby.

Here’s what every pregnant woman needs to know about this very common virus:

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Your chances of having herpes may be greater than you think...

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16.2 percent of U.S. adults—1 in 6—have genital herpes caused by herpes simplex virus 2, or HSV-2. However, when you factor in the number of people who have genital herpes caused by HSV-1, the strain typically associated with fever blisters of the mouth, the number skyrockets to approximately 1 in 3, says David Kimberlin, M.D., a professor in the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“Yet 80 percent or more of them don’t know they have the virus, because they’ve never had noticeable symptoms,” he adds. According to a 2009 study in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), an estimated 25 percent to 65 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. have HSV-1 or HSV-2 genital herpes. In other words, you could very well have the virus and not even know it.

… And that may actually be a good thing.

If you contracted herpes before you got pregnant, your body has had time to develop antibodies to the virus, protection that you will pass on to your baby. According to Kimberlin, if you do have an established virus (as opposed to one acquired during pregnancy) and it is present in your genital tract during delivery, the risk of transmitting it to your baby is only about 2 percent.

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Contracting herpes while pregnant poses serious risk to a baby.

If you get herpes for the first time during your pregnancy, particularly toward the end, and it is present in your genital tract when you deliver, the risk of transmitting it to your baby is between 25 percent and 60 percent, a 2003 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found.

Such an infection can cause problems not only with the baby’s eyes and skin, but with his brain and central nervous system as well.

HSV infections are life-threatening in neonates,” explains Anna Wald, M.D., M.P.H., medical director of the University of Washington Virology Research Clinic in Seattle and co- author of the NEJM study. “A significant percentage of babies who are infected die even if they receive anti-viral therapy, and a significant percentage of survivors are brain-damaged.”

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Elizabeth Stein, C.N.M., M.S.N., M.P.H., a certified nurse-midwife in New York City who’s an expert in infectious diseases, explains that it takes the body between eight and 12 weeks to produce antibodies to the virus—which is why contracting herpes in late pregnancy is so dangerous.

“Having a first infection toward the end of pregnancy is extremely dangerous,” she says. “Your body simply hasn’t had time to develop the antibodies necessary to prevent the virus from attacking the fetus.”

The real danger is if your partner has herpes and you don’t.

If your partner knows he has herpes, he will undoubtedly try to keep from spreading it to you by avoiding sexual contact if he has any lesions. The problem is that he can unwittingly infect you through a process called viral shedding; this occurs when the virus is active but doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms. This happens fairly often: A new study published in JAMA found that people infected with HSV-2 are shedding the virus 10 percent of the time.

If your partner does have herpes and you don’t, Stein recommends the following:

  • Don’t have sex This is especially important toward the third trimester.
  • If you do have sex, use condoms However, according to the NEJM study, condoms are only about 50 percent effective at reducing the risk of HSV transmission. “A condom may not cover the area with the virus,” Stein explains.
  • Don’t have oral sex Few people realize you can pass genital herpes to a partner’s mouth—and vice versa. “Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are found in oral and genital locations,” Stein says. Wald adds that 50 percent of new genital herpes infections are caused by HSV-1; recurrences are usually HSV-2.

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Be ready to treat symptoms.

“Your partner needs to take the anti-viral medication Valtrex [valacyclovir] or Zovirax [acyclovir] if he suspects he’s having an outbreak,” Stein says.

If you do have herpes, watch for symptoms if you think the virus is becoming active—tingling, pain or itching at the infection site are common symptoms— let your care provider know. She will likely want you to take an anti-viral medication; fortunately, these are safe during pregnancy. (Also let her know if you’ve been diagnosed with herpes, even if you haven’t had a recent outbreak.)

Many doctors and midwives put women with the virus—active or not—on one of these medications for the last four weeks of pregnancy, as studies have shown that doing so can reduce shedding and outbreaks; whether they actually protect the baby is unknown, however. If you do have an active infection at delivery, your baby should be delivered by Cesarean section.

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How do babies get herpes? 

“Eighty-five percent of neonatal infections occur when the baby passes through the birth canal, often when a woman is shedding the virus but has no symptoms,” says pediatric infectious disease specialist David Kimberlin, M.D.

Ten percent of cases are contracted after delivery, often when someone with herpes fever blisters kisses the baby; the other 5 percent are contracted in utero. As for breastfeeding, if you have a herpes sore on your nipple or areola, don’t nurse on that side until it is completely healed. Cover the sore if you have one elsewhere on your breast.

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Comments (12)

Anonymous
August 15, 2019
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Anonymous
August 7, 2019
Am here to appreciate Dr Aba for using his herbal medicine to cure my Herpes virus. since 3 years now I have been living with this virus and it has been giving me challenges, I was so perplexed cause i have been taking several drugs to be cured but all of my effort was in vain,one morning i was browsing through the internet then i saw several testimonies about Dr. Aba curing people from Herpes virus and immediately i contacted Dr. Aba on his email: dr.abaherbalhome@gmail.com, i told him about my troubles and he told me that i must be cured, gave me some instructions and which i rightly followed. so he prepared a herbal medicine for me and sent it to me which i used for 2 weeks and everything was like a dream to me and my Herpes virus was totally gone, why don't you contact him today and be free from your diseases because he is very good and honest Doctor. contact him via email; dr.abaherbalhome@gmail.com or whatsApp him on +2348107155060
Anonymous
August 6, 2019
Hello everybody!!! I don't just know the reason why some people is finding it difficult to believe that there is a cure for herpes, I have been suffering from herpes since last three years with my husband but today I am happy that am cure from it with the herbal medicine made by Dr Okougbe the great healer, I was browsing the internet searching for help when I came across a testimony shared by someone on how Dr Okougbe cure her from Herpes Virus. I quickly contacted him to get the cure and today i am now free from the virus, I am so much happy today that we have someone like this great healer out there, so' people out there kindly contact this great doctor on his email address: Drokougbespecialhome@gmail.com please sir keep your good work cause there are people out there who is in need of your healing medicine.once more contact him now on his other email: Drokougbespecialhome@gmail.com, this are the following area of his specialization : {1} HIV And AIDS {2} Diabetes {3} Epilepsy {4} Blood Cancer {5} HPV {6} ALS {7} Hepatitis B {8} HSV-2 VIRUS {9} CANCER {10} LOW SPERM COUNT {11} STROKE {12} ASTHMA {13} PREGNANCY PROBLEM {14 IMPOTENCE {15} GETTING YOUR LOVER OR HUSBAND BACK E.T.C
Anonymous
August 6, 2019
Am here to appreciate Dr Aba for using his herbal medicine to cure my Herpes virus. since 3 years now I have been living with this virus and it has been giving me challenges, I was so perplexed cause i have been taking several drugs to be cured but all of my effort was in vain,one morning i was browsing through the internet then i saw several testimonies about Dr. Aba curing people from Herpes virus and immediately i contacted Dr. Aba on his email: dr.abaherbalhome@gmail.com, i told him about my troubles and he told me that i must be cured, gave me some instructions and which i rightly followed. so he prepared a herbal medicine for me and sent it to me which i used for 2 weeks and everything was like a dream to me and my Herpes virus was totally gone, why don't you contact him today and be free from your diseases because he is very good and honest Doctor. contact him via email; dr.abaherbalhome@gmail.com or whatsApp him on +2348107155060
Anonymous
August 3, 2019
Am here to appreciate Dr Aba for using his herbal medicine to cure my Herpes virus. since 3 years now I have been living with this virus and it has been giving me challenges, I was so perplexed cause i have been taking several drugs to be cured but all of my effort was in vain,one morning i was browsing through the internet then i saw several testimonies about Dr. Aba curing people from Herpes virus and immediately i contacted Dr. Aba on his email: dr.abaherbalhome@gmail.com, i told him about my troubles and he told me that i must be cured, gave me some instructions and which i rightly followed. so he prepared a herbal medicine for me and sent it to me which i used for 2 weeks and everything was like a dream to me and my Herpes virus was totally gone, why don't you contact him today and be free from your diseases because he is very good and honest Doctor. contact him via email; dr.abaherbalhome@gmail.com or whatsApp him on +2348107155060
Anonymous
August 3, 2019
Am here to appreciate Dr Aba for using his herbal medicine to cure my Herpes virus. since 3 years now I have been living with this virus and it has been giving me challenges, I was so perplexed cause i have been taking several drugs to be cured but all of my effort was in vain,one morning i was browsing through the internet then i saw several testimonies about Dr. Aba curing people from Herpes virus and immediately i contacted Dr. Aba on his email: dr.abaherbalhome@gmail.com, i told him about my troubles and he told me that i must be cured, gave me some instructions and which i rightly followed. so he prepared a herbal medicine for me and sent it to me which i used for 2 weeks and everything was like a dream to me and my Herpes virus was totally gone, why don't you contact him today and be free from your diseases because he is very good and honest Doctor. contact him via email; dr.abaherbalhome@gmail.com or whatsApp him on +2348107155060
Anonymous
July 31, 2019
MY NAME IS AMAYA DUPRA I am here to testify my testimonies to the worldwide great testimony that i must share to all herpes patients in the world i never believed that there could be any complete cure (Herpes simplex virus) for 3 years now i have been living with this virus but all thanks to Dr henry for curing me and my wife from herpes virus, i do not have much to say, but with all my life i will forever be grateful to him and God Almighty for using Dr henry to reach me when i thought it is all over, today i am a happy woman after the medical doctor have confirmed my status Negative, i came across a post of this herbal doctor who have cure so many people with his herbal medicine, i choose to give it a try and to my greatest surprise i am now a living testimony after using the herbal cure from Dr henry. so i want to use this medium to reach other persons around the world who have been infected with this disease by testifying the wonderful herbs of Dr henry that all hope is not lost yet, try and contact him by any means with his email:: henryazakaherbalhome@gmail.com or whatsapp +2348107397241 may god bless you abundantly sir for all your good works. ....
Anonymous
July 31, 2019
MY NAME IS AMAYA DUPRA I am here to testify my testimonies to the worldwide great testimony that i must share to all herpes patients in the world i never believed that there could be any complete cure (Herpes simplex virus) for 3 years now i have been living with this virus but all thanks to Dr henry for curing me and my wife from herpes virus, i do not have much to say, but with all my life i will forever be grateful to him and God Almighty for using Dr henry to reach me when i thought it is all over, today i am a happy woman after the medical doctor have confirmed my status Negative, i came across a post of this herbal doctor who have cure so many people with his herbal medicine, i choose to give it a try and to my greatest surprise i am now a living testimony after using the herbal cure from Dr henry. so i want to use this medium to reach other persons around the world who have been infected with this disease by testifying the wonderful herbs of Dr henry that all hope is not lost yet, try and contact him by any means with his email:: henryazakaherbalhome@gmail.com or whatsapp +2348107397241 may god bless you abundantly sir for all your good works. ....
Anonymous
July 31, 2019
MY NAME IS AMAYA DUPRA I am here to testify my testimonies to the worldwide great testimony that i must share to all herpes patients in the world i never believed that there could be any complete cure (Herpes simplex virus) for 3 years now i have been living with this virus but all thanks to Dr henry for curing me and my wife from herpes virus, i do not have much to say, but with all my life i will forever be grateful to him and God Almighty for using Dr henry to reach me when i thought it is all over, today i am a happy woman after the medical doctor have confirmed my status Negative, i came across a post of this herbal doctor who have cure so many people with his herbal medicine, i choose to give it a try and to my greatest surprise i am now a living testimony after using the herbal cure from Dr henry. so i want to use this medium to reach other persons around the world who have been infected with this disease by testifying the wonderful herbs of Dr henry that all hope is not lost yet, try and contact him by any means with his email:: henryazakaherbalhome@gmail.com or whatsapp +2348107397241 may god bless you abundantly sir for all your good works. ....
Anonymous
July 31, 2019
MY NAME IS AMAYA DUPRA I am here to testify my testimonies to the worldwide great testimony that i must share to all herpes patients in the world i never believed that there could be any complete cure (Herpes simplex virus) for 3 years now i have been living with this virus but all thanks to Dr henry for curing me and my wife from herpes virus, i do not have much to say, but with all my life i will forever be grateful to him and God Almighty for using Dr henry to reach me when i thought it is all over, today i am a happy woman after the medical doctor have confirmed my status Negative, i came across a post of this herbal doctor who have cure so many people with his herbal medicine, i choose to give it a try and to my greatest surprise i am now a living testimony after using the herbal cure from Dr henry. so i want to use this medium to reach other persons around the world who have been infected with this disease by testifying the wonderful herbs of Dr henry that all hope is not lost yet, try and contact him by any means with his email:: henryazakaherbalhome@gmail.com or whatsapp +2348107397241 may god bless you abundantly sir for all your good works. ....
Anonymous
July 31, 2019
MY NAME IS AMAYA DUPRA I am here to testify my testimonies to the worldwide great testimony that i must share to all herpes patients in the world i never believed that there could be any complete cure (Herpes simplex virus) for 3 years now i have been living with this virus but all thanks to Dr henry for curing me and my wife from herpes virus, i do not have much to say, but with all my life i will forever be grateful to him and God Almighty for using Dr henry to reach me when i thought it is all over, today i am a happy woman after the medical doctor have confirmed my status Negative, i came across a post of this herbal doctor who have cure so many people with his herbal medicine, i choose to give it a try and to my greatest surprise i am now a living testimony after using the herbal cure from Dr henry. so i want to use this medium to reach other persons around the world who have been infected with this disease by testifying the wonderful herbs of Dr henry that all hope is not lost yet, try and contact him by any means with his email:: henryazakaherbalhome@gmail.com or whatsapp +2348107397241 may god bless you abundantly sir for all your good works.
Anonymous
July 30, 2019
Am Lisa by name, i was diagnosed with Herpes for 3years ago i lived in pain with the knowledge that i wasn't going to ever be well again i contacted so many herbal doctors on this issue and wasted a large sum of money but my condition never got better i was determined to get my life back so one day i saw mr Brown post on how Dr Aba saved him from the VIRUS with herbal medicine i contacted Dr Aba on his email address dr.abaherbalhome@gmail.com we spoke on the issue i told him all that i went through and he told me not to worry that everything will be fine again so he prepared the medicine and send it to me through courier service and told me how to use it,after 14days of usage I went to see the doctor for test ,then the result was negative,am the happiest woman on earth now. this testimony is real.thanks to Dr Aba God bless you. you can also reach him on his whatsApp number +2348107155060