To put this in greater perspective, an estimated 20-25% of pregnant women have genital herpes, while less than 0.1% of babies contract an infection.
If you are a man with either oral or genital herpes and your partner is uninfected and pregnant, you can do even more to protect the baby.
Since the highest risk to an infant comes when the mother contracts HSV-1 or 2 during pregnancy, you can take steps to ensure that you don't transmit herpes during this crucial time.
"Compared to all the other possible risks in a pregnancy, the risk of neonatal herpes is extremely small." "I think it's perceived to be more of a problem than it is", says Scott Roberts, MD a researcher in the Department of Maternal Fetal Medicine at the University of Kansas.
"The rate of neonatal herpes is very low, even though the prevalence of genital herpes in our country is quite common." Transmission rates are lowest for women who acquire herpes before pregnancy -- one study (Randolph, JAMA, 1993) placing the risk at about 0.04% for such women who have no signs or symptoms of an outbreak at delivery.
About half of infants who are treated with antiviral medication escape permanent damage.
But others may suffer serious neurological damage, mental retardation or death.So learn what you need to know, and then relax and enjoy the excitement of the pregnancy -- and remind her that the odds are strongly in favor of you're having a baby as healthy and happy as Maria's.In about 90% of cases, neonatal herpes is transmitted when an infant comes into contact with HSV- 1 or 2 in the birth canal during delivery.Fortunately, babies of mothers with long-standing herpes infections have a natural protection against the virus.Herpes antibodies in the mother's blood cross the placenta to the fetus."But I didn't have an outbreak at my delivery, and at my doctor's recommendation I delivered vaginally. I want to tell other mothers that I know it's hard not to worry when your baby's safety is at stake.