Chickenpox: your pregnancy nightmare.

We talk about weight gain and back pains but Chickenpox is an unnoticed hurdle during pregnancy impacting the mother as well as the child. Let’s dive deep and unravel it !

Rajnandini Tiwari
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Picture taken from iStock images.

When I got to know that my cousin was expecting her first child I was over the moon but to our distress the joy turned sour in the first trimester itself when the expecting mother got infected with chickenpox. This turned out to be her biggest pregnancy nightmare. 

Though pregnancy in itself is a long journey full of do’s and don'ts, there are many hurdles a mother has to face. Beginning from the first trimester the challenges line up, from the early signs of pregnancy like nausea and vomiting to the mountain of pain, one has to bear for childbirth. The list never ends and it’s not just the nine months, the postpartum can be a tough fight as well. Somewhere in this list lies chickenpox as well. 

Chickenpox caused by varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a form of herpes virus. More than 9 in 10 pregnant women are immune to chickenpox. Still, about 1 in 2,000 pregnant women in the U.S. will get chickenpox during pregnancy because they are not immune. It not only affects the mother but can have serious implications on the child as well, thus knowledge about this is essential for all expecting mothers as well as planning mothers. 

Risk factors for the mother


Pregnant women infected with Chickenpox get weak during this phase. Their body is already working overtime to facilitate the child's growth and now fighting foreign cells is tough work for them. Due to this low immunity, they are at a higher risk of severe complications like anemia, pneumonia, and many others. The chances of encephalitis, which is brain inflammation, are relatively increased. In severe cases, inflammation of the liver that is hepatitis can also occur.

Risk factors for the baby

Picture taken from iStock images. 

If a mother contracts chickenpox during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, though relatively low, there is a risk of developing congenital varicella syndrome. That could lead to permanent scars on the baby’s skin, limb abnormalities, vision problems, small head size, seizures, and neurological disorders. If the mother is affected by chickenpox a few days before the delivery then the risk factors go up. The baby could have neonatal varicella that could be fatal or result in mental retardation. 

Chickenpox at any point of life can be extremely disruptive but during pregnancy, it’s worse. So it’s better to follow some prevention for the expecting mothers than to stress later. Ensure that you have received your chickenpox vaccine before planning your pregnancy. During your pregnancy avoid contact with a chickenpox patient at all costs. If you see signs of chickenpox during pregnancy or accidentally come in contact with an infected person consult health professionals immediately. Connect with our Gytree Health experts for your medical supervision.

Pregnancy is a difficult yet beautiful journey, so don’t let chickenpox disturb your joyful moments. 

We are an information-gathering blog. For all medical interventions, please consult a registered medical practitioner. 
Pregnancy chickenpox