Journal of Perinatology
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December 2001, Volume 21, Number 8, Pages 545-549

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State of the Art

Neonatal Varicella

Andreas Sauerbrei MD and Peter Wutzler MD

Klinikum of the Friedrich-Schiller University Jena, Institute for Antiviral Chemotherapy, Jena, Germany

Correspondence to: Andreas Sauerbrei, MD, Klinikum of the Friedrich-Schiller University Jena, Institute for Antiviral Chemotherapy, Winzerlaer Strabetae 10, D-07745 Jena, Germany

Abstract

Neonatal varicella is mostly caused by maternal chickenpox acquired during the last 3 weeks of pregnancy. Transplacentally transmitted infections occur in the first 10 to 12 days of life, whereas chickenpox after that time is most likely acquired by postnatal infection. If the mother develops rash between days 4 and 5 antepartum to day 2 postpartum, generalized neonatal varicella leading to death occurs in up to 20% of affected cases. Neonatal chickenpox within the first 4 days after birth has usually been found to be mild. A fatal outcome has been reported in 23% of cases if neonatal chickenpox occurs between 5 and 10 to 12 days of age. Serological methods have been widely used to confirm clinical diagnosis. For rapid virological diagnostics, amplification of viral DNA in skin swabs by polymerase chain reaction is the method of choice. To prevent severe neonatal chickenpox, passive immunization is indicated. If varicella occurs, acyclovir treatment has to be administered promptly. Journal of Perinatology (2001) 21, 545-549.

December 2001, Volume 21, Number 8, Pages 545-549

Table of contents    Previous  Abstract  Next   Article  PDF