April 17, 2009

Shingles And Pregnancy

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Shingles is a disease caused by the Varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chicken pox. It only occurs in people who have already had chicken pox, and thus have the virus inside their bodies. It is impossible to catch shingles from somebody else, though it is possible to contract chicken pox after exposure to somebody with shingles. Shingles affects the nerve roots, and appears as a painful and very uncomfortable rash all over the body.

Many soon-to-be-mothers are afraid that an outbreak of shingles can harm the baby. It may indeed cause some damage, but experts are divided over the seriousness of the problem. Keep in mind that a healthy diet and lifestyle will go a long way in keeping shingles away. There is no direct relationship between shingles and pregnancy. If you have had chicken pox as a child, then the disease may surface again at any time, but it is more likely to happen much later in life. The appearance of shingles along with pregnancy is actually quite rare.

When it does appear though, it can be maddening. As if pregnancies and shingles separately weren’t difficult enough, together, they can be a nightmare. The appearance of the disease is most serious during the first two trimesters. If a mother develops the disease during this time, there is a risk of some malformation to the fetus. It is important to discuss the risks with your doctor. If the disease appears during the last three weeks of pregnancy, then there is a chance that the baby may be born with shingles, or develop them soon after. However, the good news is that this is extremely rare, and recent studies have shown that even chicken pox is rarely transmitted to the baby. The chances are much higher if the disease appears in the last few days of pregnancy, and if left untreated can become serious or life-threatening.

When an expectant mother develops the illness, she passes on some of the antibodies to her child as well. As the child’s immune system strengthens, he or she is better able to keep the disease at bay. When the disease occurs too close to delivery, though, the mother will not be strong enough and will not have had time to pass the anti-bodies along to the child. If you are pregnant, you may want to get yourself tested to see if you are already immune to chicken pox. If you aren’t, your doctor may suggest precautions, and it is wise to stay away from those who may be infected.

Of course, the best precaution you can take is to stay healthy, and to keep your immune system in tip top shape. A good died, exercise, a stress free environment and happy surroundings will work to keep all diseases and problems, not just shingles, at bay. You should also stop smoking and drinking alcohol immediately, if you do.