Congenital Varicella | Diagnosis & Treatments

How we diagnose congenital varicella

The first step in treating your child is forming an accurate and complete diagnosis.

  • If you contract chicken pox during your pregnancy, fetal ultrasounds can monitor your baby to determine if varicella affects its development.

After we complete all necessary tests, our experts meet to review and discuss what they have learned. Then we will meet with you and your family to discuss the results and outline the best treatment options.

How we treat convenital varicella

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.

It's important to know the following about congenital varicella syndrome:

  • If your baby is born with varicella syndrome, we'll administer Varicella-zoster immune globin (VZIG) immediately after birth, in order to lessen the severity of the disease.

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.

Prevention: The best treatment

You don't have to worry about congenital varicella syndrome at all if you have already had chickenpox or been vaccinated against it.

However, if you are pregnant and have not had chickenpox before, the following steps can help prevent varicella syndrome:

  • Avoid contact with anybody who has chickenpox.
  • Susceptible people who are living with a pregnant woman should get the varicella vaccine.
  • If you are already pregnant, DO NOT get the varicella vaccine, as it contains a live version of the virus. Get vaccinated at least a month before your pregnancy or after giving birth.

Pregnant women who contract varicella during pregnancy often have a more severe case of the disease than women who are not pregnant. Severe varicella may be treated with an antiviral medication given through an IV.

Coping and support

It's essential to remember that while hearing that your child is infected with congenital varicella syndrome can feel very isolating, many children and their families have been down this path before. We've helped them, and we can help you, too. There are lots of resources available for your family — within Children's, in the outside community and online. These include:

Patient education: From the very first visit, our nurses will be on hand to walk you through your child's treatment and help answer any questions you may have. And they'll also reach out to you by phone, continuing the care and support you received while at Children's.

Parent to parent: Want to talk with someone whose baby has been treated for congenital varicella syndrome? We can put you in touch with other families who have been through similar experiences and can share their experience.

Faith-based support: If you are in need of spiritual support, we'll help connect you with the Department of Spiritual Care (chaplaincy). Our program includes nearly a dozen clergy representing Episcopal, Jewish, Lutheran, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Unitarian, and United Church of Christ traditions who will listen to you, pray with you, and help you observe your own faith practices during the time you and your child are in the hospital.

Social work and mental health professionals: Our social workers and mental health clinicians have helped many other families in your situation. We can offer counseling and assistance with issues such as coping with your child's diagnosis, stresses relating to coping with illness, and dealing with financial difficulties.

On our patient resources pages, you can read all you need to know about: