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J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2013 Feb;35(2):131-7.

Clinical practice in prevention of neonatal HSV infection: a survey of obstetrical care providers in Alberta.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Calgary, Calgary AB.



To identify the current practice patterns of physicians providing prenatal care in Alberta with respect to prevention of neonatal herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection.


A 22-item questionnaire was mailed to all obstetricians and family physicians providing obstetrical care in Alberta. The questionnaire included demographic and practice details, and details of management of patients with a history or symptoms of HSV lesions, including practice in prescribing antiviral therapy, recommending elective Caesarean section, and ordering serology. Two reminders were mailed as necessary.


Responses were received from 89 obstetricians (57%) and 94 family physicians (54%). Antiviral therapy was prescribed for the prevention of neonatal HSV infection in the third trimester by 97% of obstetricians versus 84% of family physicians (P = 0.007), with acyclovir being the most commonly prescribed agent. Caesarean section was offered "most of the time" to women with primary HSV infection in the third trimester by 65% of physicians, to women with prodromal symptoms during the intrapartum period by 57% (no significant differences between groups), and to women with HSV lesions by 92% of obstetricians and 82% of family physicians (P = 0.032). Women with a negative HSV history but whose partner had known HSV were offered serological testing "most of the time" by 30% of physicians (no significant difference between groups).


Despite the encouraging survey results, obstetrical providers should be encouraged to offer Caesarean section to women with a primary HSV infection in the third trimester and to offer serological testing in discordant couples. These simple strategies can help to prevent neonatal HSV infection and its long-term consequences.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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