Roseola infantum, which is also known as the sixth disease, mostly affects infants. Not many cases of roseola have been reported during pregnancy. Studies suggest that potential danger to the fetus from this virus remains unknown. This HerHaleness write-up focuses on the link between roseola virus and pregnancy problems.
Human herpes virus 6 (HHV-6) and human herpes virus 7 (HHV-7) belong to a genus of herpes viruses known as Roseolovirus. Roseola infantum is a viral infection that is caused by these viruses. Roseola infection mostly affects children who fall in the age group of 6 months to 2 years. Since a majority of children are exposed to this virus, the immune system prepares itself by developing antibodies during childhood itself. This is the reason behind the low incidence of Roseola infection in adults. However, those who haven’t been exposed to the virus earlier can get affected by this viral disease later in life. It must be noted that the symptoms of this infection are quite mild in healthy adults. In rare cases, pregnant women who haven’t been exposed to this virus earlier, may contract this viral infection on coming in contact with an infected person.
Transmission of Roseola Virus During Pregnancy
As mentioned earlier, a woman who has been exposed to this virus during early childhood years or adolescence, would already have developed immunity. Under these circumstances, exposure to the virus during pregnancy would not adversely affect the pregnancy. However, if a woman is exposed to the virus for the first time, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy, she could become susceptible to certain pregnancy complications. It is believed that first-trimester infection with human herpes virus 6 may increase the risk of spontaneous abortion.
It is believed that this virus is transmitted through respiratory secretions or saliva. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, the virus becomes airborne. The virus can get transmitted to others through the secretions. Once the virus settles into the body, symptoms may start appearing within a couple of weeks. These include:
◆ Runny nose
◆ Sore throat
◆ Swollen lymph nodes
◆ Loss of appetite
◆ Red/pink rash that develops on the torso and spreads to the face, neck, arms, and the legs
The rash appears once the body temperature comes back to normal.
Effects of Exposure to Roseola Virus in Pregnant Women
Roseola virus is similar to the Varicella virus and herpes virus in structure. Thus, subsequent exposure is not associated with serious health risks that are linked with first time exposure. Those who have not been exposed to this virus before need to be extremely cautious. Pregnancy is a time, when the immune system is suppressed, which makes a pregnant women more susceptible to infections. If a pregnant woman has been ill, and has a compromised immune system, she needs to take precautions. To be on the safer side, pregnant women must stay away from children or adults who have been infected by this virus.
If a woman is infected with roseola virus for the first time during the first trimester of pregnancy, she may become susceptible to miscarriage. It is believed that exposure to this virus might have a negative impact on the development of the fetus. Though instances of pregnant women developing roseola infection are quite rare, if a pregnant woman does experience the aforementioned symptoms, she must immediately consult a doctor.
Since roseola infection commonly affects children, majority of people have been exposed to it earlier. Though subsequent exposure doesn’t pose serious health risks, there is a need to be cautious during pregnancy. Pregnant women, especially those who were not affected by this infection in childhood, must maintain distance from those infected with this virus. Such precautionary measures will certainly lower the risk associated with this infection. If a woman experiences symptoms associated with roseola during pregnancy, she must seek medical assistance at the earliest.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.