Congenital varicella syndrome

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Congenital varicella syndrome
Other names: Antenatal varicella virus infection; mother-to-child transmission of varicella syndrome;[1] fetal varicella infection; varicella embryopathy[2]
Stillborn baby with scarring of the left chest, armpit, and upper arm due to a varicella infection at 13 to 15 weeks gestational age.[3]
Usual onsetAt or before birth[1]

Congenital varicella syndrome presents as birth defects in a newborn baby of a mother infected with chickenpox during early pregnancy.[1] Symptoms may include a small baby with skin scarring, small eyes, and cataracts.[1] Complications may include developmental delay and intellectual disability.[1]

For the condition to occur the mother must be infected during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.[1] Diagnosis is generally based on symptoms in the baby together with a history of chickenpox during pregnancy.[2] If infection occurs around the time of delivery, a condition known as neonatal varicella may occur.[2]

Prevention is by vaccinating women who are not immune to chickenpox with the chickenpox vaccine.[2] Non-immune women who are exposed to chickenpox during pregnancy may be treated with varicella zoster immunoglobulin (VZIG) to try to prevent the condition.[2] If problems are severe, abortion may be considered.[3] Once an affected baby is born treatment is mostly supportive care.[2]

Congenital varicella syndrome is rare, affecting less than one in a thousand pregnancies.[1][2] The condition was first described in 1947.[4]

Signs and symptoms


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 "Congenital varicella syndrome - About the Disease - Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center". Archived from the original on 7 December 2022. Retrieved 7 September 2023.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 "Congenital Varicella Syndrome - Symptoms, Causes, Treatment | NORD". Archived from the original on 2 July 2020. Retrieved 7 September 2023.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Sauerbrei, A. (2010). "Review of varicella-zoster virus infections in pregnant women and neonates". Health. 02 (02): 143–152. doi:10.4236/health.2010.22022.
  4. Bhavsar, Sejal M.; Mangat, Chetna (2023). "Congenital Varicella Syndrome". StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. PMID 33760553. Archived from the original on 2023-06-29. Retrieved 2023-09-08.