It's not uncommon for women who are pregnant to come into contact with someone who has chicken pox. This can cause great worry, but it is uncommon for there to be a problem.
Firstly, if you have definitely had chicken pox before, there is no risk to the baby. In any case, even if you don't recall having had chicken pox, it is likely you have antibodies (80% do) from a silent infection.
So if there's any doubt about it, you should see a doctor for a blood test to check for immunity. Sometimes the laboratory can use the stored blood taken at booking to speed this up.
Risks to the baby are important at the following two times, only if mum gets chicken pox:
1. Before 20 weeks - risk of chicken-pox syndrome. This is actually quite rare. Up until 14 weeks the risk is about 0.4%, whereas between 14-20 weeks it is 2%. If a woman has VZ-Ig treatment (see below) after being exposed, the risk is even lower.
2. Mum's rash developing within a week before delivery to a month afterwards. It takes about a week for mum to pass the protective antibodies to the baby, so if born before that time, the baby is at risk of overwhelming infection after birth.
Between 20 weeks and term, there is no risk to the baby.
VZ-Ig is a form of antibody treatment that can reduce the risk of chicken-pox syndrome and should be given by 10 days after the initial attack.
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