Neonatal Herpes

When a pregnant female has genital herpes simplex virus (HSV2) which is active during the delivery, there is a chance of baby getting infected and born with neonatal herpes.

Neonatal herpes is a condition that can cause serious medical issues or even fatal consequences. Luckily, it is a very rare occurrence and the majority of females with genital herpes manage to deliver and raise healthy children.

The most important task is to timely identify whether the suspicion about baby being born with neonatal herpes is correct. After the delivery, symptoms commonly appear in between 1-3 weeks and in the majority of cases include skin vesicles (fluid filled sacs). Other signs of neonatal herpes include:


  • respiratory issues
  • fever
  • malnutrition
  • damaged and irritated skin, eye and oral areas.


What needs to be taken into consideration, is that mother’s genital herpes is not the only way to infect a baby. When a person with active oral herpes has physical contact with newborn, the infection can spread to the baby too. Physical contact, of course, includes kissing and even holding a baby after accidentally touching a cold sore on the mouth. In order to protect baby, it is important that people with HSV avoid close contact with him/her.

Neonatal herpes may be localized or disseminated. Localization means that the infection will affect skin, mouth and eyes. Disseminated type of infection may cause damage to organs, respiratory problems, hepatitis, unstable temperatures…

The infection may cause  damage to provoke following complications :


  • seizures
  • mental retardation
  • learning disabilities
  • blindness
  • death



The course of treatment will vary according to the intensity of the issue. For example, if the infection is localized, the course of  medication called acyclovir will normally be enough. When herpes is disseminated and is followed by a number of complications, acyclovir will need to be accompanied by special treatment, for example : control of seizures or temperature, supporting respiratory system of a baby and etc.

Localized neonatal herpes gives a solid opportunity to recover after a treatment. Disseminated, on the other hand, is unfortunately  more severe condition and has a high morbidity and mortality rate. However, good news is that as already mentioned, neonatal herpes is relatively uncommon and females who discover HSV during pregnancy, do not need to terrified or worried.