Why Women Should Get Vaccinated Against Chickenpox Before Getting Pregnant
Good news for all expectant mothers who previously had chickenpox; the antibodies developed from the virus will transfer to your unborn child. It will be a gift of indirect immune protection for your baby.
The varicella zoster virus (VZV) familiarly known as chickenpox has been a common contagious childhood disease for decades producing itchy, painful rash of blisters, spreading all over the body.
If as a child you did not contract the disease, you were considered fortunate. Not so now; adults newly exposed to the virus are likely to develop more serious complications than during childhood. Additionally, infants born of mothers who never contracted the disease are vulnerable to its attack.
The chickenpox vaccine became widely available only 16 years ago. Those persons not eligible for vaccination are open to the dangers of severe infection. Persons at high risk for serious complications include children with leukemia, pregnant women, and infants.
Infants less than 1 year old are not protected from this virulent disease. According to immunization guidelines, infants are not eligible until having attained the age of 12 months.
Researchers from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) reported that “infants used to be four times more likely to die from varicella before 1995 than they are today. In 1995, the varicella vaccine became available to children aged 12 months.”
The effects of the vaccine have been monitored through community based surveillance projects which allow Investigators to track clinical and geographic data of findings, as it pertains to the vaccine’s success.
What researchers have discovered is that there is a rapid decline in the rate and morbidity of the disease in persons not eligible for the vaccine. As more persons are immunized against the virus, exposure is markedly reduced, resulting in better protection for individuals at risk.
The conclusion of this study has been reported in the journal, Pediatrics. In it, researchers have written that the “Presence of maternal varicella-zoster virus antibodies might explain attenuated disease in very young infants likely born to mothers with history of varicella.”
If you have had chickenpox or were vaccinated against the disease, your child's risks become significantly reduced with only a weakened form of the disease possible.