How dangerous is herpes when passed to a newborn by the mother?

Question:

A baby was born with a sore on its scalp, was tested and discovered it was genital herpes. The mother was not aware she had herpes.

Answer:

Herpes can be life threatening to a new baby. The first few hours with herpes can be very dangerous. It can cause blindness, brain damage, deafness and even death. Some children can escape getting any of these even if they happen to be born with herpes. The baby may have an outbreak now and then but that is about it. Some kids can grow and be healthy in spite of contracting herpes at birth.

Passing herpes to a new baby is very rare. If the mother does not have an active outbreak at the time of delivery then the chances of passing herpes during a natural birth is not likely, it’s even further reduced if the mother has been taking antiviral medication before she is due to deliver.

If the mother knew she had herpes she could choose to have a c-section which prevents herpes from being passed on at birth.

If you are expecting or know someone who is and who has herpes, have a chat with your doctor to ensure the safety of the unborn child.

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