Chickenpox and the unborn child - reassure me

My sister-in-law is 3 months pregnant and had a scare (details unknown) a week or so ago. The other day, I learned that the class that her son (my nephew) attends, has had cases of chickenpox. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be worried, but I am concerned for my sister-in-law and her unborn child. I’ve read a bit - the Wikipedia article et al - but I’d appeciate your comments.

Has she had chicken pox? If so, she’s probably fine. In addition, you can’t really get chicken pox unless you’re directly exposed: if her son doesn’t get it, she’s not going to get it because he was exposed.

I was in a similar position: when my wife was pregnant, one of the women in my creative writing class came down with it – just after I had had a long face-to-face conversation with her. However, our doctor said that since I was immune, I wasn’t bringing the virus home.

More information here:

IANAD, but if she is concerned she should see her GP. If you haven’t already had chickenpox or the vaccine, it’s possible to take prophylactic aciclovir/zovirax (an anti-viral effective against Varicella zoster) which would prevent infection.

According to the BNF acicyclovir isn’t contraindicated during pregnancy, although they advise to use it only when there’s a pressing need.

It’s almost certain she’s already had Chickenpox herself.

I think it’s measles you’re thinking of. I’ve never heard anything attached to chicken pox (though I could be wrong), but measles have been known to cause birth defects when contracted in the first trimester.

German measles cause birth defects when the mother is exposed in the first trimester, I know. Do regular-old measles, also?

FYI, I don’t think most kids even get measles anymore. The vaccine pretty much erradicated it, didn’t it? I think they may not even vaccinate against it any more. Any parents of the under 10 set got the skinny on this?

If so, then she has antibodies and has passed them on to the baby in utero. If she’s very worried and can’t remember whether or not she’s had them, she can tell her doctor she’s been exposed and they can do a blood test to make sure she has antibodies.

Looks like they’re still vaccinating for it.

Unfortuantely, in the UK, due to a scare that has never been substantiated, a number of parents have stopped having their children vaccinated with the mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and outbreaks of measles are increasing as a result. A thirteen year old boy actually died of it earlier this year (though IIRC he did have a compromised immune system).

We had (have) a huge stink going on here in the US that there is something in the vaccine that causes autism. There may or may not be truth to it, and I guess it’s being investigated, but not nearly as vigorously as some people would like. For that reason, I think many parents have chosen not to vaccinate. And I think that may be illegal. Has anyone else heard about this?

It’s worse than that: people wanted their children vaccinated but were unwilling to have the 3-in-1 vaccine for the reasons you mention, but doctors were not (and still are not) allowed to administer the seperate vaccines.

I was directly exposed twice while pregnant.
My step daughter gave them to my son when I was pregnant with my middle child.
My middle child got them from school when I was pregnant with my third child.
My doctor told me not to worry since I had already had them as a child.

AFAIK, the chicken pox vaccine is optional. I did not have my third child vaccinated for chicken pox - something happened when she was supposed to have the vaccine, but she didn’t get it. She actually got chicken pox before her next set of vaccinations came around.

I was born 4/82 and got an MMR in 8/83 (the conveniences of working at the hospital where your records are kept). Immunity to the above is a condition of employment here.

It isn’t illegal to not have your children immunized, but it’s very difficult to get around.

This site gives these exceptions:

Yeah, it’s the MMR vaccine that some people theorize causes autism, but as far as I know, nothing has ever been substantiated. It is not illegal to not vaccinate your children in the U.S. Depending on which state you’re in, you can get an exemption from immunizing on religious or philisophical grounds, and I think the exemptions are only needed for school and daycare purposes. I don’t know the rules for each state but I do know that a lot of people don’t vaccinate at all or they delay vaccinations until their children are older (or they selectively vaccinate and only get certain ones).

I would be interested in seeing stats that show percentages of kids vaccinated in the U.S. I wouldn’t be surprised if that number is falling.

(BTW, my kids are both in the process of getting their full vaccinations.)

My uncle refused to have his kids vaccinated…back in the 50s. I think it was a big deal at the time because these diseases were far more prevalent than they are today. But he stood by his guns.

I believe parents can have their children vaccinated seperately as long as they are willing to pay for it to be done pravately. Googling suggests this costs about £100 pounds. I personally don’t think that the NHS should have to pay for separate vaccines when there has been no convincing evidence to suggest that the triple vaccine is causing problems and indeed all of the large creditable studies have failed to demonstrate a relationship between the vaccine and autism.

Thanks everyone!