Testing & Diagnosis for Neonatal herpes simplex in Children


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

Diagnosis is sometimes difficult because babies with neonatal herpes simplex may not have the characteristic blisters of the disease. In addition, many symptoms of herpes resemble other diseases or disorders. However, the following tests can diagnose neonatal herpes:

  • Skin culture — taking a sample of the blister by scraping or removing a piece of tissue
  • Blood test
  • Swab culture — taking a sample with a cotton swab from the nose, throat or rectum
  • Urine test
  • CT scan or MRI scan of the head

If you or your doctor suspects that your baby may have neonatal herpes simplex, we typically test both the mother and the baby for the presence of the virus.

  • If you are pregnant and know that you have herpes simplex or know that you’ve recently been exposed to the virus, ask your doctor to perform a test.

After we complete all necessary tests, Children’s Hospital Boston’s 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.

Envisioning the “baby-to-be”
See how Children’s uses imaging techniques to make diagnoses before birth.