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What You Must Know About Herpes Simplex Infection And Babies

What You Must Know About Herpes Simplex Infection And Babies

Herpes is an infection caused by exposure to the herpes simplex virus.

If you have genital herpes (a sexually transmitted disease), you can pass the infection to your baby during pregnancy, labour or birth.

Neonatal herpes is a serious condition that requires immediate treatment, if not treated, herpes can cause serious health problems in babies, including deadly infection.

READ ALSO: 10 Medical Reasons a Pregnant Woman May Be Scheduled to Have a C-Section

Herpes  Virus In Babies is caused by the two herpes simplex viruses (also called HSVs) named below:

1. HSV-1: This virus usually causes cold sores and fever blisters on the mouth and lips. The virus spreads from the mouth to the skin.

2. HSV-2: This virus causes most cases of genital herpes. It spreads through sex and skin-to-skin contact. HSV-2 is the most common cause of herpes infection in newborns, but HSV-1 also can cause it.

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How Do Babies Get Herpes?

Babies can get herpes in three ways:

1. Before birth (also called intrauterine herpes): Occurs when an infected mother passes the virus to her baby in the uterus. This kind of herpes is rare.

2. During labor and birth (also called birth-acquired herpes): This usually happens when a baby passes through an infected birth canal or vagina during delivery.

This is the most common way babies get infected with the herpes, a baby can get infected without passing through the vagina, but this is rare. It can happen if the amniotic sac breaks before birth. 

3. After birth. You or another person can pass the virus to your baby after birth. For example, if you, or someone else have a herpes sore on your lip and you kiss your baby’s skin, you can actively pass the virus to her.

READ ALSO: ‘I Didn’t Know This Was Possible!’ – Mum Recounts How Newborn Baby Died From Virus Transmitted Through A Kiss

Signs To Look Out For In Your Baby

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Tell your baby’s health care provider if your baby has any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Bleeding easily
  • Small red sores or blisters on the skin, around the eyes or mouth
  • Fast breathing, short periods without breathing or your baby’s skin looks blue
  • Fatigue, feeling very tired or exhausted
  • Jaundice, when your baby’s skin and the white parts of his eyes look yellow
  • Poor feeding
  • Seizures

Diagnosis In Babies?

To diagnose neonatal herpes, your pediatrician may use these medical tests:

  • Physical exam to look for sores
  • Blood tests.
  • Liver function tests.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (also called MRI). MRI is a medical test that makes a detailed picture of the inside of your body. Your baby may need an MRI of the head.
  • Spinal tap, to check spinal fluid for infection.
  • Swab of fluid and skin cells from the sores.

READ ALSO: 8 Benefits of Having a Cesarean Section

How You Can Keep Your Baby Safe From Herpes?

To help keep your baby safe from herpes:

  • Tell your health care provider you have genital herpes: Your provider checks you for signs of infection during pregnancy and may treat you of it, to prevent an outbreak around the time you give birth.

You may need to have a cesarean birth (also called c-section) to help prevent you from passing the herpes virus           to your baby.

  • If You Or Someone Have A Herpes Sore, Keep Your Baby Away From It: Don’t kiss your baby when you have a cold sore. If you have a herpes sore on your breast nipple or areola (the dark area around the nipple), stop breastfeeding on that breast.

Use a breast pump or manual expression to remove milk from the infected breast until the sore heals, and don’t           feed your baby pumped or manually expressed breast milk from the infected breast.

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