These antibodies help protect the baby from acquiring infection during birth, even if there is some virus in the birth canal.
That's the major reason that mothers with recurrent genital herpes rarely transmit herpes to their babies during delivery.
Neonatal herpes is not a reportable disease in most states, so there are no hard statistics on the number of cases nationwide.
However, most researchers estimate between 1,000 and 3,000 cases a year in the United States, out of a total of 4 million births.
My daughter, now 12 months, is healthy and beautiful. On the one hand, such concern is understandable, because herpes can have devastating consequences for a newborn.
"Babies delivered at term should be protected by antibodies -- but premature babies haven't gotten a full load, "explains Brown."Compared to all the other possible risks in a pregnancy, the risk of neonatal herpes is extremely small." "I think it's perceived to be more of a problem than it is", says Scott Roberts, MD a researcher in the Department of Maternal Fetal Medicine at the University of Kansas."The rate of neonatal herpes is very low, even though the prevalence of genital herpes in our country is quite common." Transmission rates are lowest for women who acquire herpes before pregnancy -- one study (Randolph, JAMA, 1993) placing the risk at about 0.04% for such women who have no signs or symptoms of an outbreak at delivery.Mothers who acquire genital herpes during the last trimester of pregnancy may also lack the time to make enough antibodies to send across the placenta.In addition, newly infected people - whether pregnant or not - have a higher rate of asymptomatic shedding for roughly a year following a primary episode.