Can I Give My Baby Herpes?
If you have herpes, which is an incredibly common illness, you know how troublesome it can be. In addition to those potentially painful blisters that may pop up, you may also feel some anxiety about its inability to be cured. However, being a parent to a new baby can make that anxiety worse. You may be wondering, “Can I give my baby herpes?”
Well, let’s talk about it!
What is Herpes?
Before we get into the important information, let’s quickly talk about exactly what herpes is. Of course, if you are concerned about the possibility of having this illness, please, go see your doctor – only he or she can properly diagnose and manage it!
So, herpes, caused by the herpes simplex virus, is a term that is used for two different strands of the disease; there’s HSV-1 and HSV-2. Herpes simplex 1, or HSV-1, is primarily associated with oral cold sores. Conversely, HSV-2, also known as herpes simplex 2, is more responsible for genital sores.
Symptoms are different from person to person; some people experience a rash of those painful blisters while others have no symptoms at all. However, we’re all about the babies here, so let’s talk about symptoms children may have; herpes is dangerous for a baby.
Babies who have been exposed to herpes may have some serious symptoms that can include:
- easy and excessive bleeding
- cold sores
As the most obvious symptom, open cold sores make transmitting the disease extremely easy.
Will My Baby Contract My Herpes?
Babies don’t have strengthened immune systems yet and can be easily susceptible to herpes. So, yes, you can give your baby herpes. You can even give your baby cold sores.
How can you give your baby herpes, then? Well, in rare cases, you can give your baby herpes through the birthing process. Luckily, the chances of actually passing herpes to your baby are pretty slim, especially if you already had the disease before you got pregnant. You’ve got antibodies that help to protect your precious bundle!
Another way to potentially give your baby herpes is through your saliva if you have a current breakout with open sores. For example, if your baby is a newborn and you have an active outbreak, you can accidentally give your baby herpes through kissing.
Although, if your baby has no tears in the skin, it’s a minimal chance of spreading herpes to the baby.
Fortunately, breastfeeding doesn’t typically pose a risk of transmission unless the mother has open sores on her breasts.
Dangers of Herpes on Babies
While there’s a relatively small risk of giving your baby herpes, if your little one happens to contract it, it can become a serious problem. Just be aware that herpes is dangerous for a baby.
If your baby is over six months old, the chances of complications are minimal. However, if your baby is a newborn, or even just a few weeks old, herpes is dangerous for your baby.
Complications can come up and your baby can experience some of the following:
- a high fever
- skin blisters
- seizures and convulsions
- extreme lethargy
Since herpes is dangerous for a baby, medical attention is always necessary to ensure the health of your child.
More extreme cases can arise, although they are also extremely rare! I’m talking about neonatal herpes. In these rare instances, less than 0.1% of births, complications can be fatal. If left untreated, neonatal herpes can affect spinal cord function as well as the baby’s brain.
We know you love your baby, so we do have some tips to help protect that sweet little child from the risk of herpes.
Protecting Your Baby from Herpes
In an effort to not give your baby herpes, there are some excellent ways to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
Always wash your hands before you snuggle with your baby! Clean hands help to control the spread of many illnesses, so it’s always a good idea to keep your hands washed.
If you do happen to have an active outbreak, make sure to cover your cold sores to prevent your baby from touching it. Remember, open sores are extremely contagious! We know that you don’t want to give your baby herpes. Similarly, try to resist the urge to kiss your baby with open sores. Also, avoid sharing items with your baby, such as towels, utensils, etc. All that saliva brings the potential to give your baby herpes.
Enjoy the time with your baby – just be aware and cautious to protect that sweet child!