Chicken Pox and Pregnancy

Patient

Q: I am currently 10 weeks pregnant- I have just found out that my niece was playing with a friend all day Saturday who today has developed Chicken Pox. My niece currently is showing no signs of chicken pox, but I know that it can take between 10-21 days after contact for it to develop. We are due to be spending xmas day with her and my family. My Mother cannot remember if I had chicken pox or not when I was younger. So I do not know if I am immune or not. Please can you tell me if I should avoid spending xmas with them even if she does not show active signs of having the virus before xmas day? Is there any vaccine either myself or my niece could have between now and then to make sure we are safe. Appreciate you advice. Thanks

Doctor

A:   I understand your concern about Chickenpox and pregnancy. Certainly if chickenpox develops during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy particularly between weeks 8 and 20 the baby faces a slight risk of a rare group of serious birth defects known as congenital varicella syndrome.
Now, let me reassure you that most people including your self are immune to this condition either by having it when infants or by immunizations during childhood too.  Since you do not recall having recieved the vaccination or having chicken pox as a child, the best thing to do is to avoid contact.  There are no other preventaive measure you could take that would reduce your risk.
When the holidays are over, your doctor can do a simple blood test to inform you if you have natural immunity to chicken pox.

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