Chickenpox is a condition caused by the varicella-zoster virus that can affect you at any stage of your life, although it commonly affects children under the age of 12. Although chickenpox is not commonly life-threatening in children, some individuals face a greater risk of developing severe complications, such as pregnant women or people with weak immune systems.
Chickenpox and Pregnancy
If you are pregnant and happen to come into contact with chickenpox, you are susceptible to developing pneumonia, a serious lung infection which can be fatal. Chickenpox can also pose potential problems to your baby, depending on what stage of the pregnancy you are at when you get infected.
If you get chickenpox within the first 20 weeks of your pregnancy, your baby faces a higher chance of having congenital varicella syndrome. This condition is characterised by birth defects such as skin scarring, eye, limb and brain abnormalities, gastrointestinal complications and low birth weight.
Getting chickenpox two weeks before or after giving birth can result in you passing the infection to your baby, but generally, the condition will be mild.
If you develop chickenpox 2-5 days before giving birth or two days postpartum, your baby will be at risk of a life-threatening infection known as neonatal varicella.
Giving birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy can also put your baby at increased possibility of developing complications from chickenpox.
Chickenpox Vaccination and Precautions
If you do not have immunity to chickenpox and are planning to become pregnant, the best way to get protected from the virus is to get yourself vaccinated. It is ideal to wait about three months after the vaccination course before getting pregnant. If you are already pregnant, waiting until after birth to get vaccinated is essential since the chickenpox vaccine is contraindicated to pregnancy. In the meantime, avoid contact with people with chickenpox or shingles since they are highly contagious.
However, if you become exposed to someone with chickenpox or shingles during your pregnancy, contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor may treat you with antiviral medicine that should be administered 24 hours after the chickenpox rash appears.
Avoid chickenpox-related complications during pregnancy through chickenpox vaccination by visiting any Touchwood Pharmacy locations in Streatham, Sydenham, Ramsgate, Northolt and Northampton.
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