7 doctors weighed in:

A woman has genital herpes and gets pregnant . . . Will baby be mentally retarded due to the herpes?

7 doctors weighed in
Dr. James Ferguson
Pediatrics
2 doctors agree

In brief: Manageable risks

If a mother delivers vaginally with her first genital outbreak, there is ~30% risk the baby could get it and have a terrible illness.
If a recurrent outbreak, this drops to ~4% but suppression of outbreaks or c-section delivery before the membranes are open 4 hours can cancel the risk. Rarely, some women shed herpes without an outbreak and could pass it , baby sick around 2 wks.

In brief: Manageable risks

If a mother delivers vaginally with her first genital outbreak, there is ~30% risk the baby could get it and have a terrible illness.
If a recurrent outbreak, this drops to ~4% but suppression of outbreaks or c-section delivery before the membranes are open 4 hours can cancel the risk. Rarely, some women shed herpes without an outbreak and could pass it , baby sick around 2 wks.
Dr. James Ferguson
Dr. James Ferguson
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1 comment
Dr. Glynis Ablon
typically docs will prescribe oral antivirals prior to delivery of baby to reduce risk of spread
Dr. Brian Grogan
Obstetrics & Gynecology
1 doctor agrees

In brief: No

Genital herpes can only cause a problem if you have an outbreak when you go into labor and your bag of waters breaks.
Most doctors will have you take an antiviral medication in the last month of pregnancy to reduce the chances of a herpes outbreak.

In brief: No

Genital herpes can only cause a problem if you have an outbreak when you go into labor and your bag of waters breaks.
Most doctors will have you take an antiviral medication in the last month of pregnancy to reduce the chances of a herpes outbreak.
Dr. Brian Grogan
Dr. Brian Grogan
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Dr. David Bergman
Obstetrics & Gynecology - Maternal Fetal Medicine

In brief: Herpes

Not likely. The baby can be effected by transmission of herpes during labor if exposed to an active infection.
If the baby is effected it can either get meningitis or pneumonia which can be treated. Women with a history of herpes should take Valtrex (valacyclovir) daily from 35 weeks till labor to prevent an outbreak & the need for a c section.

In brief: Herpes

Not likely. The baby can be effected by transmission of herpes during labor if exposed to an active infection.
If the baby is effected it can either get meningitis or pneumonia which can be treated. Women with a history of herpes should take Valtrex (valacyclovir) daily from 35 weeks till labor to prevent an outbreak & the need for a c section.
Dr. David Bergman
Dr. David Bergman
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Dr. M. Taslimi
Obstetrics & Gynecology

In brief: Only if infected

Your doctor will prophylactically treat you close to delivery and will make sure you have no active lesions close to the birth canal.
Otherwise, she will deliver you by cesarean.

In brief: Only if infected

Your doctor will prophylactically treat you close to delivery and will make sure you have no active lesions close to the birth canal.
Otherwise, she will deliver you by cesarean.
Dr. M. Taslimi
Dr. M. Taslimi
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Dr. Dennis Higginbotham
Board Certified, Obstetrics & Gynecology
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