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Infectious Diseases

HSV-1, my toddler and pregnancy

01/16/2004

Question:

I am in my last trimester of pregnancy and my 2 year old daughter has contracted PRIMARY HERPETIC GINGIVOSTOMATITIS (herpes type 1). I am terrified that she may pass this on to my newborn baby who is due in a month! I read that a person is contagious for MONTHS after the primary attack and a sore need not be present to be contagious. How likely is it that the virus will be in her saliva after the baby is born? What if my husband and I get it from her? Does this mean we have to all avoid touching the newborn baby for months since we will be contagious for months with or without sores? I woke up with a bad sore throat 2 days after her initial exposure, does this mean I probably have it now? (I read this is a symptom in adults of a primary infection). We`ve never had cold sores. I`m scared for my newborn baby, as the infection could kill a newborn! I would not even be concerned if it weren`t for the fact that a newborn baby is about to be in the house. What are the signs of primary infection in adults and when do sympoms show up? For how long is my daughter contagious to the new baby?

Answer:

You should talk with your daughter`s pediatrician about your concerns. The pediatrician has likely encountered this situation before, and can review the facts with you to help you understand the risks and uncertainties involved in potential exposure. You, your family and the pediatrician will figure out a plan to protect the newborn, including monitoring for any signs of infection, and the possibility of giving the newborn antiviral medications if necessary. You and your husband have probably already been infected with HSV-1, the virus that causes herpetic gingivostomatitis (even though you haven`t had cold sores). If you want to know for certain, a blood test is available. If you`ve already been infected, then you won`t catch it again. Chances are, your 2 year old daughter will no longer be infectious by the time your baby is born. 

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Response by:

Lisa A Haglund, MD Lisa A Haglund, MD
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati