Knowing your health history is especially important if you are pregnant or could become pregnant and are providing child care. Several childhood diseases can harm the unborn child, or fetus, of a pregnant woman exposed to these diseases for the first time. Women with young children in preschool or daycare and pregnant childcare providers are most at risk.
Chickenpox or Shingles (Varicella Virus)
First-time exposure to this virus during pregnancy may cause miscarriage, multiple birth defects, severe disease in newborns. Chickenpox can be a serious illness in adults. Most people (90 percent to 95 percent of adults) were exposed to chickenpox as children and are immune. For women who do not know if they had chickenpox as a child, a blood test can verify if they are immune. If they are not immune, a chickenpox vaccine is now available.

Vaccination against chickenpox before you get pregnant may reduce the risk of passing the virus to your fetus should you become pregnant in the future and then are exposed to chickenpox. Because the vaccine may harm a fetus, the vaccine is not given to pregnant women. Your physician will ask you if you are pregnant before giving you the vaccination and will advise you to avoid pregnancy for one month following each dose of vaccine.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
First-time exposure to CMV during pregnancy may cause hearing loss, seizures, mental retardation, deafness, and/or blindness in the newborn. In the United States, cytomegalovirus is a common infection passed from mother to child at birth. Providers who care for children under two years of age are at increased risk of exposure to CMV. Most people (and 40 percent to 70 percent of women of childbearing age) have been exposed to CMV and are immune. There is no licensed vaccine against CMV.

Fifth Disease (erythema infectiosum)
First-time exposure to fifth disease during pregnancy may increase the risk of fetal damage or death. Most people (and 30 percent to 60 percent of women of childbearing age) have been exposed to the virus and are immune. There is no vaccine licensed for fifth disease.

Rubella (German or 3-day measles)
First-time exposure to rubella during the first three months of pregnancy may cause fetal deafness, cataracts, heart damage, mental retardation, miscarriage, or stillbirth. Rubella can also be a severe illness in adults. Everyone who works in a child care facility should have proof of immunity to rubella on file at the facility. Child care providers can be considered immune only if (a) they have had a blood test for rubella antibodies and the laboratory report shows antibodies or (b) they have been vaccinated against rubella on or after their first birthday. Providers who are not immune should be vaccinated. Because it is not known whether the vaccine may harm a fetus, a woman should not be vaccinated if she is pregnant. After vaccination, a woman should avoid getting pregnant for three

Tags: childhood

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