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Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2003 Oct;4(10):1809-19.

Current treatment options to prevent perinatal transmission of herpes simplex virus.

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  • 1Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston Salem, NC 27157, USA.


Neonatal herpes is a potentially devastating consequence of perinatal transmission of the herpes simplex virus (HSV), with significant morbidity and mortality. Treatment options are available, but must begin early in disease with manifestations that are often protean. Thus, preventive measures need to be optimised. Antiviral suppression in late pregnancy of women with a history of recurrent genital herpes will decrease symptomatic recurrence at delivery and appears to reduce caesarian section rates. However, primary HSV Type 2 and primary HSV Type 1 episodes have the highest neonatal transmission rates and thus, effective prevention may require the identification and suppression of the discordant partner. Significant experience has been gained with the use of acyclovir in pregnancy and it is recommended for both episodic and suppressive therapy in pregnant women. Its use has been demonstrated to be cost-effective in suppressive therapy, although issues regarding compliance and the potential for neonatal neutropenia need to be addressed. The more conveniently dosed prodrugs valacyclovir and famciclovir are being evaluated for use in pregnancy.

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