Pregnancy and Fifth Disease
Fifth disease is a mild rash illness caused by parvovirus B19. This disease is usually not a problem for pregnant women and their babies. About half of pregnant women are immune to parvovirus B19, so they and their babies are usually protected from getting the virus and fifth disease. Pregnant women who are not immune usually have only mild illness if they are exposed to fifth disease. Also, their babies usually do not have any problems.
Rarely, a baby will develop severe anemia caused by its mother’s infection with fifth disease, and the woman may have a miscarriage. But this is not common. It happens less than 5% of the time among all pregnant women with parvovirus B19 infection, and it happens more commonly during the first half of pregnancy.
A blood test for parvovirus B19 can show if you
- are immune to this virus and have no recent sign of infection,
- are not immune and have never been infected, or
- have had a recent infection.
If you are pregnant, you may want to talk with your healthcare provider if you
- have been exposed to someone with fifth disease,
- have an illness that might be caused by parvovirus B19 infection, or
- were recently infected with parvovirus B19.
There is no single recommended way to monitor pregnant women with parvovirus B19 infection. Your healthcare provider may recommend additional prenatal visits, blood tests, and ultrasounds.
Pregnant women may choose to continue going to their workplace if there is an outbreak of fifth disease happening. However, if you are not immune to parvovirus B19 and are not currently infected, you may want to stay away from people with fifth disease while you are pregnant. Talk with your family, healthcare provider, and employer to decide what is best for you.
Healthcare providers who are pregnant should know about the potential risks to their baby and discuss this with their doctor. All healthcare providers and patients should follow strict infection control practices to prevent parvovirus B19 from spreading.