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Med J Aust. 2001 Mar 19;174(6):288-92.

The management of varicella-zoster virus exposure and infection in pregnancy and the newborn period. Australasian Subgroup in Paediatric Infectious Diseases of the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases.

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King George V Hospital, Sydney, NSW.


Zoster immunoglobulin (ZIG) should be offered to pregnant, varicella-seronegative women with significant exposure to varicella-zoster virus (VZV) (chickenpox) infection. Oral aciclovir prophylaxis should be considered for susceptible pregnant women exposed to VZV who did not receive ZIG or have risk factors for severe disease. Intravenous aciclovir should be given to pregnant women who develop complicated varicella at any stage of pregnancy. Counselling on the risk of congenital varicella syndrome is recommended for pregnant women who develop chickenpox. ZIG should be given to a baby whose mother develops chickenpox up to 7 days before delivery or up to 28 days after delivery. Intravenous aciclovir should be given to babies presenting unwell with chickenpox, whether or not they received ZIG. Breastfeeding of babies infected with or exposed to VZV is encouraged. A mother with chickenpox or zoster does not need to be isolated from her own baby. If siblings at home have chickenpox, a newborn baby should be given ZIG if its mother is seronegative. The newborn baby does not need to be isolated from its siblings with chickenpox, whether or not the baby was given ZIG. After significant nursery exposure to VZV, ZIG should be given to seronegative babies and to all babies born before 28 weeks' gestation.

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