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Chickenpox during pregnancy

In pregnant women, chickenpox can be a danger to the fetus or newborn baby.


Chickenpox is caused by an infection with the varicella zoster virus. The chickenpox infection provides lifelong protection against a new round of chickenpox, but later in life you can get shingles when the virus is reactivated. Most have chickenpox as a child, but a few percent of the adult population have not had the disease and are therefore susceptible to it. Adults who get chickenpox have a greater risk of serious chickenpox than children.

Chickenpox during pregnancy


Often the person who wants to become pregnant or is pregnant if she has had chickenpox before. If the pregnant woman does not know if she has had chickenpox, a blood test can show if she is susceptible to the infection. The blood test is important because about 80% of those who think they have not had chickenpox have been infected, and therefore have protection against the disease. In some pregnant women who are susceptible to the infection and who have been exposed to chickenpox (for example, a child who gets chickenpox some day after the visit) antiviral treatment is given.

Chickenpox and pregnancy

A pregnant woman who gets chickenpox can get complications such as skin infections or pneumonia. However, the risk is not greater than in other adults who get chickenpox. In the event of a serious infection, premature contractions can sometimes occur. Shingles in the pregnant woman are usually harmless.

Instead, it is the fetus or newborn who is most at risk of getting chickenpox:

  • Chickenpox during the first half of pregnancy (mainly between week 13 and week 20) ​​can cause congenital varicella syndrome in the baby in about 1-2% of pregnancies. It can manifest as low birth weight, skin damage, eye diseases, malformations of the arms and legs and brain damage. The risk of the baby dying after birth is great.
  • If the pregnant woman gets chickenpox at the time of the baby's birth, there is a risk of very severe chickenpox infection in the baby. The risk is greatest if the pregnant woman gets chickenpox five days before the baby's birth to two days after the baby's birth. Before and after that period, the risk is significantly less. A woman who gets chickenpox after week 35 should be treated with antiviral therapy. Newborns at risk of serious illness are treated with antibodies to the varicella zoster virus.

Chickenpox during pregnancy should always be assessed by specialists in infectious diseases and gynecologists.

Vaccine and pregnancy

In women who have not had chickenpox who are or want to become pregnant, blood tests will show that there are no antibodies to the varicella zoster virus. To reduce the risk of getting chickenpox during pregnancy, you can vaccinate against chickenpox. Two doses of vaccine are recommended to obtain complete protection against the disease. It cannot be done during pregnancy or four weeks before a pregnancy. Sometimes a test is taken after a pregnancy which shows that the woman has not had chickenpox before. Vaccination can then be offered as protection for a next pregnancy.

Sometimes children of pregnant women who have not had chickenpox before can be vaccinated to reduce the risk of having chickenpox. Children can also be vaccinated within 3 days of being exposed to chickenpox.


Warning signs of physical activity during pregnancy

It is nice and useful, both for the mother and the child, to exercise during pregnancy - but many are still worried about doing something wrong. Here you can read about the symptoms that may be signs that you should stop the exercise session and ask for advice from a doctor or midwife.

A common advice for pregnant women is to feel after yourself if everything feels normal. During pregnancy, new changes and symptoms are constantly emerging and it can be difficult to know what is normal and what is not.

In this article we address warning signs that apply to exercise during pregnancy. If you experience any of the symptoms listed below, stop the exercise session and consult a doctor or women's clinic for advice before resuming exercise.

If you have any of the following symptoms, you should stop exercising and consult a doctor:

  • If you feel that you have chest pain.
  • If you find that your heartbeat becomes irregular or abnormally fast.
  • If you are unusually short of breath before training or become unusually short of breath during training.
  • If you get vaginal bleeding.
  • If it leaks fluid from the abdomen.
  • If you have abdominal pain, pelvic pain or persistent abdominal contractions.
  • If you faint or feel dizzy, nauseous or close to faint.
  • If you get muscle cramps.
  • If you experience an uncomfortable feeling in your abdomen.
  • If you have severe headaches.
  • If the fetal movement pattern changes / decreases sharply after a workout.
  • If you experience sudden swelling around your ankles, your face or if you get leg pain.
  • If you find it difficult to walk.
  • If you feel cold or nauseous.
  • If you experience unusual pains.
  • Avoid overheating - exercising in very hot or humid climates means an increased risk of overheating.

In case of suspected amniotic fluid leakage or vaginal bleeding, always consult a doctor or midwife - regardless of whether you are exercising or not.



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