DTB 43:69-72 doi:10.1136/dtb.2005.43969
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Chickenpox, pregnancy and the newborn


In the UK, chickenpox (primary varicella virus infection) is usually a mild, self-limiting disease of childhood.1 It is more severe in adults.1 For example, of every 100,000 people who contract chickenpox, around 4-9 die from it, of whom 81-85% are adults.2,3 Chickenpox infection in pregnant women can lead to a severe maternal illness and it appears five times more likely to be fatal than in non-pregnant women.4 Although most women who have chickenpox in pregnancy give birth to healthy children, in other cases, the baby is harmed by in-utero infection or severe varicella of the newborn.1 Here we review the risks and key aspects of diagnosis and further management of varicella infection in pregnancy and the neonatal period.

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