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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
At Children’s Hospital Boston, we understand that you may have a lot of questions when your child is diagnosed with congenital varicella syndrome, such as:
• What exactly is it?
• How did he get it?
• What are potential complications in my child’s case?
• What are the treatments?
• Are there any possible side effects from treatment?
• How will it affect my child long term?
We’ve tried to provide some answers to those questions here, and when you meet with our experts, we can explain your child’s condition and treatment options fully.
A baby may contract a varicella infection in the uterus when the mother catches chicken pox and carries it through her bloodstream to the baby.
Since a baby in utero cannot completely get rid of an infection, the varicella virus remains in the body, and can lead to congenital varicella syndrome, which may prevent the child's vulnerable organs from developing correctly.
A woman who gets varicella (chicken pox) for the first time during her pregnancy can pass it on to her unborn child, causing the syndrome.
How is chicken pox spread?
For adults and children, varicella is spread through direct skin contact with the chicken pox rash or through the droplets in the air.
What is the likelihood that my baby will get congenital varicella syndrome?
Most adults and children have already had chicken pox or been vaccinated against it, so the risk of a mother passing the varicella virus on to her baby is very low.
Babies born with congenital varicella syndrome may have may have some or all of the following symptoms:
It’s important to identify early if your child is at risk for developing congenital varicella syndrome. Pregnant women who contract chicken pox will be monitored by ultrasound to see if the virus is affecting the fetus.
If your baby is born with congenital varicella syndrome, specific symptoms of the disease can be treated accordingly. For more information, see the Treatment and Care tab.
If you’re pregnant and at risk for contracting chicken pox, you may have lots of questions about congenital varicella syndrome and how it can affect your baby.
You may find it helpful to jot down questions as they arise—that way, when you talk to your doctor, you can be sure that all of your concerns are addressed.
Here are some questions to get you started:
You don’t have to worry about congenital varicella syndrome at all if you have already had chicken pox or been vaccinated against it.
However, if you are pregnant and have not had chicken pox before, the following steps can help prevent congenital varicella syndrome:
Q: What is congenital varicella syndrome?
A: A baby can be born with congenital varicella syndrome if a mother infected with chicken pox passes the varicella virus to her fetus.
Q: Why is congenital varicella syndrome a problem?
A: Varicella can be spread from a pregnant mother to her fetus through the bloodstream.
Q: Is there any way to prevent infection?
A: You don’t have to worry about congenital varicella syndrome at all if you have already had chicken pox or been vaccinated against it.
Q: How is congenital varicella syndrome diagnosed?
A: If you contract chicken pox during your pregnancy, fetal ultrasounds can monitor your baby to determine if varicella affects its development.
Q: What symptoms might my baby have?
A: Babies born with congenital varicella syndromemay have birth defects that affect the following parts of their bodies:
Q: What are our treatment options?
A: Our Division of Infectious Diseases treats congenital varicella syndrome in infants.
If your baby is born with congenital varicella syndrome, we’ll administer Varicella-zoster immune globin (VZIG) immediately after birth, in order to lessen the severity of the disease.
For more information, see the Treatment and Care [LINK] tab.
Q: What is my child’s long-term outlook?
A:It’s important to identify early if your child is at risk for developing congenital varicella syndrome. Pregnant women who contract chicken pox will be monitored by ultrasound to see if the virus is affecting the fetus.
Q: What makes Children’s different?
A: Our physicians are expert, compassionate and committed to focusing on the whole child, not just his condition—that’s one reason we’re frequently ranked as a top pediatric hospital in the United States.
Physicians and researchers in our Division of Infectious Diseases are constantly learning more about how diseases develop and spread as well as how the body uses its defenses to fight back.
And at Children’s, we consider you and your child integral parts of the care team and not simply recipients of care. You and your care team will work together to customize a plan of care for your child.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”