Chickenpox (ie, varicella) during pregnancy is usually innocuous, although it may cause discomfort. Complications are more common in adults than in children. Although pneumonitis is uncommon in adults, it can be severe and require aggressive treatment with antiviral drugs and a ventilator. Fetal varicella symdrome occurs in 10% to 13% of infants born to mothers who have chickenpox in the first trimester and 4.9% of those whose mothers contract the disease during the second or third trimester. Severe skin and central nervous system abnormalities may occur in this small number of infants. Neonatal infection is often severe; thus, immunization with varicella-zoster immune globulin and use of antiviral agents are suggested if rash develops in the mother within 5 days before or after delivery.
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