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Will my baby get affected if I get chicken pox during pregnancy?

Q: My brother has chicken pox. Six days ago I got exposed to the chicken pox spreading virus. I am in the 10th week of my pregnancy. The doctor says that there is a chance that the child may get birth defects if I get chicken pox during this time. I have neither got the disease before nor have been vaccinated to become immune.Is it necessary to terminate pregnancy if I get chicken pox?

A:Exposure to the virus in first half of pregnancy has a risk of the baby getting infected with serious consequences. However, in one study the risk of serious fetal infection before 13 weeks of pregnancy was low,i.e. around 0.4%. Maximum risk is between 13-20 weeks which is 2%. Ultrasound may not detect all abnormalities,e.g., eye problems, skin lesions and brain atrophy. Therefore, your gynaecologist has advised termination of pregnancy. Baby may be infected with skin lesions if mother had chicken pox late in pregnancy. However,if she has chicken pox just before or during delivery the baby can be seriously affected, even resulting in the death of the baby at times. There is a specific immunoglobulin, which should be administered within 96 hours of exposure. You have already crossed that time. Even the immunoglobulin does not confer 100% protection. Vaccination is recommended only after delivery. Though theoretically it is not terartogenic, it is not recommended during pregnancy.


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