Shingles Home > Shingles and Pregnancy

Some expecting mothers are concerned about shingles and pregnancy, since an infection with the varicella-zoster virus may pose some risk to their baby. (This virus causes both shingles and chickenpox.) The treatment for shingles in adults generally includes antiviral drugs -- even for pregnant women, since many of these drugs appear to be safe during pregnancy. However, even with treatment, a small percentage of babies exposed to chickenpox from 21 to 5 days before birth will develop pediatric shingles within five years.


An Overview of Shingles and Pregnancy

Many pregnant women are worried about developing an infection during their pregnancy -- and rightly so. Some infections can be transmitted across the mother's bloodstream to the fetus. In other cases, the baby can acquire an infection during labor and delivery. Regardless of how they are spread, certain infections can be a serious threat to the baby's health.
(Click Pregnancy Complications for more information.)
Shingles (also known as herpes zoster) and chickenpox (also known as varicella) are both caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). If you develop a VZV infection during pregnancy, it may pose some risk to your unborn child. This, of course, depends on your stage of pregnancy.
If you develop chickenpox before you are 30 weeks pregnant, your baby may be born with a birth defect. However, these cases are rare and experts differ in their opinions about how great the risk is.
Most experts agree that developing shingles during pregnancy is even less likely to harm your unborn child.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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