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A 23-year-old female asked:

If a mother has a history of genital herpes, what are the odds of a baby having birth defects both for c-section and vaginal birth?

2 doctor answers2 doctors weighed in
Dr. James Ferguson
Pediatrics 46 years experience
Varies: Birth defects are not an issue with maternal herpes. The baby is at risk of a severe infection from the germ.The risk period begins with the opening of the bag of waters if mom is actively shedding the virus during a recognized or silent outbreak.The germ can travel into babies system & lay dormant for a while or immediately cause infection.A c-section before labor starts can avoid the risk.
Dr. Nikolaos Zacharias
Maternal-Fetal Medicine 26 years experience
Mild increased risk.: Genital herpes is of major concern when a primary infection develops immediately before/during/after labor. In those rare cases, vertical transmission of the pathogenic virus to the neonate can occur with vaginal delivery via the infected birth canal - but birth defects are not anticipated (only if first trimester transplacental infection). In chronic carriers, the risk of transmission is very low.
Dr. James Ferguson
Pediatrics 46 years experience
One of the worst cases of herpes encephalitis I ever treated occurred in the infant of an asymptomatic woman shedding virus at birth. The delivering OB paid a small fortune for not acknowledging the woman's charted past herpes & planning ahead.
Sep 21, 2012

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Last updated Sep 22, 2020

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