When you become pregnant you want to do everything you can to stay healthy. Unfortunately it is sometimes impossible to protect yourself from every illness out there. Chicken pox is a highly contagious viral infection that can be very serious. Fortunately there are ways to protect you and your baby if you are threatened by chicken pox.
Chicken pox is a viral infection also called varicella. It is accompanied by a rash, which appears as small reddish spots or pimples. A fever and body aches usually occur before the rash appears. Chicken pox is contracted during childhood in most cases although there are some instances when an adult is not immune and contracts chicken pox. About 95% of women in their childbearing years are immune to chicken pox.
How your baby will be affected depends on where you are at in your pregnancy.
Possible birth defects may be scars, eye problems, poor growth, small head size, delayed development, and/or mental retardation.
It is rare that a person will contract chicken pox twice, but those with immune problems are at an elevated risk of a second infection. There are also those cases when people think they had chicken pox when they were younger, when in fact it was just a rash or something else.
Reprinted with permission from American Pregnancy Association.