Pregnancy is a time when women worry about their health likely more than they have in their lifetime. This is because not only do they want to stay healthy for the sake of their unborn babies but to keep their unborn babies safe as well. And as luck would have it, pregnancy is also when bacteria and viruses that would generally not be given a second thought can become a threat to the health of the pregnancy. One of which is slapped cheek syndrome. It’s a virus that women need to protect themselves from during pregnancy.
Many times, slapped cheek syndrome is seen in toddlers. According to The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, many parents do not realize that their children even have the virus. Not surprisingly, the same is the case for pregnant women. And this is why tests are given to determine whether the virus is present in the system so that if it is, appropriate treatment can be provided.
Here is what slapped cheek syndrome is and whether women need to be concerned about it during pregnancy.
What Is Slapped Cheek Syndrome?
While slapped cheek syndrome is the common name for the virus, the parvovirus is what causes the red appearance on the cheeks that the syndrome is named foraccording to the Mayo Clinic. Interestingly enough though, parvovirus generally does not cause the red rash on the face of adults. That is more often a symptom of the virus when children contract it, per publication. But the name still remains nonetheless.
Like with toddlers, the parvovirus is contagious in pregnant women. Their compromised immune systems make it easy to contract the virus if exposed.
However, according to BabyCentre, given that many were exposed to it at a young age, there is an immunity built up to it. And as a result, mothers-to-be will not present with parvovirus if the exposure to it is not extended.
Slapped Cheek Syndrome Risks During Pregnancy
If women do contract slapped cheek syndrome while pregnant, there are some risks associated with carrying it.
According to The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, the biggest risk to unborn babies comes when mothers contract parvovirus between 12 and 20 weeks gestation. This is because Babies are at risk of developing fetal hydrops. A condition, according to BabyCentre that causes excess fluid to build up in unborn babies’ bodies.
While some babies will recover from fetal hydrops, others will not be as lucky. As, according to The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Networkif not monitored, there is a risk that babies will not survive.
This is why pregnant women need to consistently wash their hands and keep surfaces around them cleanper publication, so that they can reduce the risk of being exposed to parvovirus.
Symptoms Of Slapped Cheek Syndrome
It is not always easy to tell if pregnant women have been infected with the parvovirus. However, there are some symptoms that will present if the virus is present.
According to Our Health Servicesymptoms of slapped cheek syndrome include:
- Sore throat
- Rash on the body
- Pain in the joints
- Occasionally red rash on the face
The fact that having just one of these symptoms is not going to make pregnant women immediately think that they have parvovirus. This is why if any women have dealt with any of these illnesses during pregnancy, they will get a test to see if they have the virus in their system so that both they and their unborn babies can be properly monitored.
How Slapped Cheek Syndrome Is Diagnosed
To get a proper diagnosis for slapped cheek syndrome, healthcare professionals will run a simple blood test. This blood test, according to the Center for Disease Control, will determine if the parvovirus is present. It will also determine if women have recently had it by seeing if there are antibodies in the blood.
If either test comes back positive, babies will need to be monitored for several weeks to see if they develop fetal hydrops or if they are able to fight it off on their own.
Long Term Effects Of Slapped Cheek Syndrome
While many unborn babies are able to fight off parvovirus before they are born with no ill effects, others do appear to have some long-term effects of the virus that will need to be worked on to overcome.
According to a 1998 study, the most common side effect of pregnant mothers contracting parvovirus was having babies with developmental delays. Those delays, per publication included:
- Speech delays
- Language processing delays
- Information processing delays
- Attention problems
While the instances are uncommon that babies face dire consequences as a result of their mothers being exposed to the parvovirus while they are pregnant, the fact is, that there is a risk.
As such, those expecting should be conscientious of what they are exposed to, have good hygiene, and be cognizant of any symptoms that may be related to slapped cheek syndrome so that monitoring can begin as soon as possible.
Source: The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Mayo Clinic, BabyCentre, The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, Our Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, Obstetrics & Gynecology