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Pregnancy: Complications From Fifth Disease

Topic Overview

For women who have not previously had fifth disease, contracting the illness during pregnancy can increase the risk for certain complications. If a pregnant woman has been exposed to the illness, she should contact her doctor right away.

A very small number of pregnant women who get fifth disease will have a miscarriage.

In extremely rare cases, the infection can cause a condition called fetal hydrops, in which the fetus develops life-threatening anemia and severe swelling throughout the body. The mother and fetus should be closely watched with fetal ultrasounds to detect this condition.

When fetal hydrops is detected, the fetus may be treated with blood transfusions while in the uterus, although this is not usually needed. Some babies born to mothers who were infected with fifth disease during pregnancy may also be treated with blood transfusions.

Fetal parvovirus B19 infections do not cause birth defects.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised May 29, 2012

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