Pregnancy and Fifth Disease

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What is Fifth Disease?

Fifth disease is a contagious infection caused by the human parvovirus B19 which spreads through coughing, sneezing, or bodily fluids. Studies reveal that approximately 1 out of 400 expecting mothers in the United States are infected with Fifth disease each year.  Below are the steps for treating and preventing Fifth Disease while pregnant.

Symptoms of Fifth Disease During Pregnancy

The Signs and symptoms of Fifth disease during pregnancy includes:

  • Soreness in your joints which could last for several days or weeks
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Lacy red rash on the cheeks, legs, belly and neck

Typically the red rash symptoms are seen in children, while the other symptoms are most commonly found in adults. The symptoms of Fifth disease are consistent in all adults regardless of the pregnancy status.

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Diagnosis of Fifth Disease During Pregnancy

A blood test will need to be administered for those who are suspected to be infected but do not develop any rash on the body. The primary source of concern is in the case of unborn child when fifth disease is affected during the pregnancy period. The health care provider may suggest for additional ultrasounds for 8 to 12 weeks in order to watch for any possible pregnancy complications. If the ultrasound reveals any sorts of  illness for the baby, health care professional may recommend for amniocentesis or cordocentesis to confirm the infection and its severity.

Complications of Fifth Disease During Pregnancy

Even though it is rare, Fifth disease can cause complications during pregnancy. One such complication of Fifth disease that may affect the unborn child is anemia which is characterized as a lack of healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body and are important for the development of the baby. If the baby has severe anemia, there is a risk of developing Hydrops, a buildup of fluid in your baby’s body. This may lead to congestive heart failure and possibly death. If the baby has Hydrops during the third trimester, it is necessary to get induced to give birth early.

Treatment of Fifth Disease While Pregnant

Usually Fifth disease is mild and will resolve in its own way without any treatment in healthy children and adults. Babies are regularly monitored for signs of the infection and possible anemia. In rare cases, when the condition worsens, healthcare provider may treat the baby with blood transfusion while in utero.

How To Prevent Fifth Disease During Pregnancy?

Prevention is the best action against Fifth Disease as there are currently no vaccine available for it.

Some ways to keep you from being infected include:

  • Washing hands regularly with soap and hot water
  • Careful disposal of tissues or other items that carry bodily fluids
  • Covering your mouth when sneezing, coughing, etc.
  • Limited exposure to those who have Fifth disease

The steps one take to avoid Fifth Disease will also protect against other bacteria, viruses and infections. Therefore once protected against Fifth disease, you are least susceptible towards other infections.