Herpes, The Effect On Newborns And Infants

Diagnosed Or Not, The Effects Will Be There

The sexually transmitted disease, genital herpes, not only can have devastating effects on a woman, but if she is pregnant, it can profoundly affect her baby.  Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus and is presented in either the Type 1 or Type 2 viruses. 

Type 1 is generally associated with cold sores around the lip and mouth area and Type 2 is usually associated with genital sores.  Either type can affect an unborn baby or a newborn during the birth process.

Because most herpes infections, both primary and recurrent, do not produce any symptoms, these infections generally go undiagnosed.  As a result, studies have indicated that up to 90 percent of people infected with genital herpes do not know they have it (American Social Health Assn. Herpes: Get the Facts).  The fact remains though, that women who are infected and are not showing symptoms can still pass the virus to their baby.

The Center for disease Control and Prevention in their article STD Prevention: Genital Herpes, 24/05/04, reported that about 1 in 4 pregnant women have been infected with genital herpes, although most do not know it.  How does this affect an unborn or newborn baby?

The Effect On The Baby

Most newborns get the virus from their mothers at the time of delivery; however, there have been cases of newborns contracting the virus before birth (Infectious Diseases of the Fetus and Newborn Infant, Remington, J. And Klein, J.).   Some babies contract the virus after birth through an infected adult - perhaps by a kiss from someone with a cold sore.

Some newborns who have been infected have skin or mouth sores or eye infections.  If the infection is localized to these areas, the baby can go on to grow and develop normally.  There is, however, a real danger that the infections can spread to the brain and internal organs. 

Symptoms of herpes virus in such cases cause the baby to appear irritable, eat poorly, have seizures or develop infections in the internal organs.  Half of the infants with widespread infections involving the internal organs die, as do about 10 percent of those with brain infections as reported in Infectious Diseases of the Fetus and Newborn Infant - Remington and Klein. 

It is also reported in the same document, that many babies who survive widespread internal organ infections and brain infections develop lasting disabilities, such as mental retardations, cerebral palsy, seizures, and vision or hearing loss.

The bottom line for pregnant women with Herpes is to get medical attention and report any abnormalities to her medical service provider.

There are ways to combat the STD-mediations, vitamins and foods to avoid with herpes.


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