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What is the risk of SHINGLES in a pregnant lady?

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My wife is currently 5 months pregnant. We are set to see her grandmother tomorrow, who just had a flare up with shingles this past week. My wife has already had the chicken pox when she was younger. Our question is if it is okay to go ahead with visiting the grandmother, or should we skip until her shingles subsides? We are concerned about any possible exposure to our little one that is on the way.

Category: Family Physician-GP

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Category: HIV- AIDS Specialist
 26 Doctors Online

Thank you for your query at

I understand your concern and will do my best to help you.

You can safely go ahead with the visit.

The only way your little one would be affected is if your wife did not have chickenpox earlier and developed an infection now.

Since she has had chickenpox in her childhood, she has lifelong immunity against the Varicella zoster virus(VZV), which causes both chickenpox and its reactivation-shingles.

Reactivation of VZV occurs either in the elderly or immunocompromised host. Even if your wife is exposed to her grandmother now, there is hardly any risk of her getting infected as she is already immune; and practically no risk for your baby as long as he/she is safe inside the womb.

In fact, the fetus of an immune pregnant woman exposed to the varicella zoster virus(VZV), is safe from VZV. It is well documented in the literature that IgG antibodies are transplacentally(through the placenta) passed to the fetus providing the necessary immunity. These antibodies persist in the newborns for up to 6 months of life.

I hope that was helpful.

Feel free to ask queries.

Thank you.

Dr. Jaydeep Tripathy
Category: HIV- AIDS Specialist
MBBS from Sri Ramachandra University in December 2011
M.Med (Family Medicine) - TNMGR University, Chennai
MBA-MPH in Public Health in March 2016, SRM University
Finished AFIH in March 2016, SRM University
MRCP ( UK ), Internal Medicine, Royal College of Physicians, June 2016
Fellowship in Diabetology from Martin Luther University in January 2017

Currently Resident Physician, in MD Radiodiagnosis - Kamakshi Memorial Hospital, Chennai
Dr. Jaydeep Tripathy and 4 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you

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