Babies Infected With Herpes

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease that affects more than 45 million Americans and countless others throughout the world. This disease can have a devastating impact upon the health of newborn babies. That is why it is very important for pregnant women to recognize the symptoms of this disease and seek immediate medical attention if they suspect they have the infection. Herpes remedies do exist, but must but the STD must be caught early. If a woman has had herpes in the past, it is prudent for her to tell her health care provider so proper precautions can be taken to protect the unborn baby.

Herpes Simplex Virus, Types 1 and 2

Herpes simplex virus, similar to the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles, is the cause of both Herpes Type 1 and Type 2. The virus hides in the nervous system and when the conditions are right for growth, it attacks. Cold sores around the mouth and lips are symptomatic of Herpes Type 1 and genital sores are associated with Herpes Type 2. However, either type can inflict either oral or genital sores. Outbreaks can happen as often as four to five times a year and they tend to become less severe over time.

Direct contact with an infected person is the method of transmission of this disease, whether through sexual intercourse or oral sex, unwashed hands, or kissing. Shortly after contact with the infection, clusters of small blisters may appear in the genital area. They itch, becoming painful. When the blisters break, they leave ulcers that hurt. Fever, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and discharge are all common occurrences with herpes. It is diagnosed by a health care provider who will examine the sores and take a swab to be sent to the lab for confirmation of the disease.

How Babies Get Infected

A pregnant woman runs the risk of infecting her unborn baby during birth and delivery. A blood test will confirm a fresh outbreak and treatment will be given should this happen during pregnancy or prior to delivery. On rare occasions, a baby can be infected before birth. Babies are often subjected to the herpes virus after they are born when they are kissed or held by a person who has a cold sore and has not washed their hands before touching the baby.

The Devastating Effects Of Herpes On Newborns

Some babies infected with herpes develop skin or mouth sores or eye infections. Most babies go on to develop normally; however, herpes can cause permanent damage to nerves or the eyes. In some cases, herpes can spread to the brain and many internal organs. An infected baby may be irritable, have seizures, and not eat properly. Even though they are treated, nearly 50 percent of babies who suffer widespread infections of internal organs die, as do ten percent of those who have brain infections. Those babies who do live through the infections develop lasting disabilities, such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy, seizures, and vision or hearing loss.

A pregnant woman who has a history of herpes should be examined thoroughly for infection when she goes into labor. If there is an active infection at that time, then the best way to protect the baby is by caesarean birth. If there are no signs of active infection, a vaginal birth is often safe. Silent infections, those that are not caught at labor, are the cause of many infant health problems. Research is ongoing in a bid to develop effective treatment.

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