Varicella zoster virus is the one behind chicken pox. According to studies, around 85-90% of the women has already been exposed to the virus and attained immunity, while others may not have faced the infection earlier. It is essential to get the Varicella zoster virus test done before you plan conception as otherwise you would risk the baby to serious birth defects or a severe deformity or illness depending on the stage of pregnancy that the virus infection occurs. The Varicella zoster virus test basically ascertains whether the antibodies for Varicella zoster virus are present in the mom-to-be.
If the woman does not have the immunity for Varicella zoster virus, she needs to be vaccinated before the conception takes place. Even if the woman contacts the virus during pregnancy, she can be effectively treated so that the severity of the impact can be annulled or lessened.
Why is Varicella Zoster Virus Screening Important?
It has been found that about 10 % of the women falling under the child bearing age are susceptible to Varicella zoster virus. Its occurrence rate is 0.01% or 1 in 10, 0000. Its impact can be really hard if it occurs too early or too late in the pregnancy. Varicella zoster virus can cause some serious repercussions in the fetus in the form of birth defects that can comprise:
- Vision loss
- Structural deformation that can affects the muscles or bones
- The limbs can be malformed or even paralyzed
- The head can be smaller than usual
- Sudden seizures
- The child can be mentally retarded
Although these symptoms are found to appear in just 2% of the babies whose mothers are infected by Varicella zoster virus, but considering the impacts, it is always advisable to ensure that the child is born healthy.
If the infection occurs after the 20th week of the pregnancy, the severity of birth defect lessens down. And if the infection strikes in the third semester, the Varicella zoster virus can affect the central nervous system hereby leading to serious complications. Whether the fetus has developed any birth defect due to Varicella zoster virus, can be detected with the help of an ultrasound test.
Risks to the Newborn Due to Varicella Zoster Virus
The importance of the screening becomes important when you know that Varicella zoster virus can prove to be a great threat to the newborn. If the mother happens to develop a chicken pox rash anywhere between five days prior to the delivery or two days following the delivery, there is a 25-50% chance of the baby getting affected. And they tend to develop a Varicella zoster virus rash just within 5-10 days of birth. The impact can be serious to near fatal.
It is then important to neutralise the virus with the help of an injection comprising of Varicella zoster immune globulin which can effectively reduce the infection to a milder form. This is because the immune globulin comprises of a collection of disease fighting antibodies which of course includes the Varicella antibodies. And if the symptoms in the baby are too acute despite the medications, antiviral drugs like acyclovir are prescribed. If the woman contacts the Varicella zoster virus 1-3 weeks prior to the delivery date, the baby faces the risk of mild infection.
When the woman who is not immune to Varicella zoster virus is vaccinated, it is important to ensure that conception occurs only after a period of at least one month. Thorough medical monitoring is very important in this regard. It is also important that pregnant women do not go for vaccination as it can create a whole lot of complication for the mother as well as the fetus.
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- The Indiaparenting Team