Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease that can affect genitals, bottoms and thighs with painful sores. Type 1 herpes can additionally target your mouth in the form of cold sores. Once infected, the herpes virus remains in the body for life.

Most women infected with the herpes virus give birth to healthy babies. The main issue with herpes and pregnancy is if the mother-to-be becomes infected with the virus while pregnant. Women who become infected with the virus before becoming pregnant have the greatest chance of having a completely healthy, uninfected baby. This is because the woman’s body has had enough time to make antibodies to fight off the herpes virus. This immunity is passed onto the baby as it grows.

Risk of infection increases with pregnant women who become infected in their first trimester, and in the most rare of circumstances this can sometimes result in miscarriage. The greatest risk falls on babies whose mothers become infected with the herpes virus in the last six weeks of pregnancy. In this case, the mothers-to-be do not have enough time to make a sufficient amount of antibodies to protect the baby. If the baby is delivered vaginally, he or she could very likely catch the virus through contact with an open sore. That being said, neonatal herpes is considerably rare.

In Canada, genital herpes only affects 1 in every 100,000 births.

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