What is Vpe in pregnancy

Herpes in pregnancy - what should be considered?

While cold sores are not a major problem during pregnancy, genital herpes can pose a threat to the health of the child. During the birth process, but also after the birth or rarely before the birth, the herpes viruses can be transmitted to the child. This threatens serious to life-threatening damage.

Genital herpes is transmitted through sexual intercourse

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted viral infection that is triggered by type 2 herpes simplex viruses. In rare cases, the herpes simplex virus type 1, which is normally responsible for cold sores, can also be transmitted to the genital area through oral sex, for example. Anyone who is once infected with the herpes virus will carry it for a lifetime. However, the virus can only be transmitted in the acute stage of the disease.

Symptoms of genital herpes during pregnancy

In women, an infection with genital herpes manifests itself with burning and itchy blisters, discharge or swelling in the vagina. The lymph nodes in the groin may be swollen. First-time infections in particular can be more severe and be accompanied by a general feeling of illness, fever, muscle pain and nausea. The disease is not dangerous for the affected woman, but it can become a problem during pregnancy. If symptoms arise in the genital area during pregnancy, a visit to a doctor is essential to clarify the cause.

New infections in particular can be dangerous

Re-infection with herpes is less dangerous for the baby at the beginning of the pregnancy than at the end. If the mother has genital herpes early in her pregnancy, the chances of infecting the baby are less than one percent. The later in pregnancy a new infection with genital herpes happens, the higher the risk for the unborn child. In women who have been infected with genital herpes for a long time, the immune system has already produced antibodies. These also protect the baby. In the event of a new infection, however, the immune system has not yet formed any antibodies, so that the baby is at risk.

Treatment of genital herpes in pregnancy

An initial infection is usually with the virus-inhibiting drugs Active ingredient acyclovir treated. Acyclovir has not yet been officially approved for the treatment of pregnant women, but an increased risk for the unborn child is not known.

Even if the herpes simplex virus type 2 has been infected some time ago, prophylactic treatment with acyclovir can help prevent an outbreak at the time of birth. Before giving birth, the pregnant woman is examined for possible symptoms. If there are signs of an acute infection, the child must be delivered by caesarean section.

Every woman has to decide for herself whether she prefers to avoid medication during pregnancy and, if in doubt, deliver her child by caesarean section or take the medication and thus keep the chances of a natural birth high.

Transmission of herpes through the placenta

Herpes can be transmitted to the child via the placenta (transplacental) during pregnancy. However, this route of infection is rare because the herpes viruses must be present in the mother's bloodstream for this. This is only for one generalized herpes simplex infection the case. This is what we talk about when the viruses multiply excessively and circulate in the bloodstream. The prerequisite for this is a severely weakened immune system, as is the case with seriously ill people. A normal cold sore or genital herpes infection cannot be transmitted through the placenta. Only five percent of infections in babies are transplacental.

Intrapartum transmission of herpes

85 percent of infections happen during childbirth (intrapartal). If the pregnant woman suffers from an acute infection with genital herpes at the time of birth, there is a high probability that her baby will become infected with the virus as it passes through the cervix and vagina during the birth process.

Postpartum infection from herpes

Ten percent of infections happen briefly after birth (postpartum). Since newborns do not yet have a fully developed immune system, the risk of becoming infected is particularly high.

Serious complications can arise when a newborn baby becomes infected with herpes. The viruses can spread unhindered in the infant's body and, unlike adults, can affect the entire body and mucous membranes. The herpes viruses can

  • the Long-term damage to the cornea of ​​the eye
  • yourself spread in the mouthso that a Difficult to eat becomes
  • a Infection with fever and vomiting and cause severe weakening of the entire body
  • the internal organs and nervous system affected and to one Herpes simplex encephalitis lead to life-threatening encephalitis.

Cold sores - more of a nuisance than a disease to adults - can become a matter of life and death for newborns. People with acute cold sores should therefore be very careful when handling newborn babies, not kissing the baby and washing their cell phones very carefully before any physical contact with the baby.

Prevent herpes infection during pregnancy

Women should definitely avoid re-infection with genital herpes, especially in the third trimester. In the case of an acute infection of the partner, sex should be avoided in the interests of the child. Condoms offer only a certain, but not 100% protection.

Caution also applies to an acute cold sore infection: the viruses can be transmitted to the genital area via oral sex. There they can also trigger genital herpes and put the child at risk.

If the pregnant woman is already carrying the virus, reactivation of the virus should be prevented. A healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, adequate sleep and avoidance of stress helps prevent herpes from flaring up again.