Is it safe to be around a child with the chicken pox when I'm pregnant?

Is it safe to be around a child with the chicken pox when I'm pregnant?

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No, to be safe, it's best to avoid contact with kids who have chicken pox when you're pregnant. You should also avoid contact with people who have shingles (which is a reactivation of a latent chicken pox infection usually acquired in childhood). Although people with shingles are much less contagious than people with a first-time chicken pox infection, they're still contagious.

If you're pregnant and you're sure that you had chicken pox as a child (or that you've received the chicken pox (varicella) vaccine), you and your developing baby will have immunity to the virus. But many people aren't absolutely positive that what they had as a child was chicken pox. And the vaccine wasn't available until 1995, so most women who are pregnant today have not been vaccinated.

If a woman is exposed to chicken pox during pregnancy, there's a small risk that her developing baby will end up with head that's smaller than normal (called microcephaly) and limb deformities. This is most likely if she's exposed during the first half of pregnancy, although defects can occur at any time during the pregnancy. And if she's exposed within five days of giving birth, there's a chance her baby will develop newborn chicken pox, which can be very serious and even life threatening.

If you're pregnant and living with children or adults who haven't either had chicken pox or been vaccinated, it's a good idea for them to be vaccinated so they won't contract the disease and bring it home to you. You can't get the vaccine yourself while you're pregnant, but it's fine to be around others who have just been vaccinated.

Any pregnant woman who has been exposed to someone with chicken pox or shingles should consult her doctor.

Editor's note: For more details, see our article about chicken pox during pregnancy.

Watch the video: Dr Karen Morton on the risks of contacting chickenpox during pregnancy (January 2023).

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