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Clinical update

Preventing herpes in newborn babies

Although rare, the effects of herpes in newborn babies can be devastating, so it is important that parents are aware of the infection and how to avoid it
Neonatal herpes

Although rare, the effects of herpes in newborn babies can be devastating, so it is important that parents are aware of the infection and how to avoid it

Essential facts

Neonatal herpes is a serious infection that affects newborn babies and has high rates of mortality and morbidity. It is caused by herpes simplex, a highly contagious virus that can cause cold sores and genital ulcers in adults. If it affects the baby's eyes, mouth or skin, there is generally a complete recovery with antiviral treatment. But if it spreads to the infant’s organs, nearly a third of children die, even after they've had treatment. Rates in the UK are generally low, with an estimated incidence of 17.5 per 100,000 live births.

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