Pregnant women with genital herpes should be careful about passing the virus on to the baby, but not overly worried about it.
A mother can infect her baby during delivery, often fatally. But if a woman had genital herpes before getting pregnant, or if she is first infected early in pregnancy, the chance that her baby will be infected is very low -- less than 1%. Women with genital herpes are examined carefully for any symptoms before giving birth. If sores or signs that an outbreak is coming show up at the time of delivery, the baby may be delivered by cesarean section (also called a C-section).
The risk of infecting the baby is high (30% to 50%) when a woman is newly infected late in pregnancy, however. That's because the mother's immune system has not developed protective antibodies against the virus. Women with an older herpes infection have antibodies against the virus, which help protect the baby. If you are pregnant and you think you may have been infected recently, tell your doctor right away.
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