What You Should Know About Neonatal Herpes Encephalitis
The Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) infection is a common occurrence in adults, and that includes pregnant women. If genital herpes is contracted during pregnancy, the baby is also at risk of getting infected and experiencing a birth injury. If the transmission of the virus from mother to baby occurs and is left untreated, it could lead to neonatal herpes encephalitis.
Incidence and Causes of Neonatal Herpes Encephalitis
Herpes simplex virus infection in infants is estimated to happen in about 1 in every 3000 deliveries in the United States. In 2006, there is a smaller incidence of 9.6 cases in every 100,000 births recorded. Its complication, neonate herpes encephalitis, can cause death in 40% to 50% of neonates if left untreated.
Most neonatal infections are due to exposure to HSV located in the genital tract of the mother during birth. Sometimes an infection may occur during the earlier stages of pregnancy, or sometimes, it happens after birth.
The chances of transmitting the virus to the infant are higher if it is the first time of the mother to be infected with genital HSV. The same thing is true if the virus has already reproduced in the host cell and is already spreading late in the pregnancy.
Neonatal Herpes Encephalitis Risk Factors
There is a chance of neonatal HSV infection in the following instances: