What if I'm pregnant and I haven't had chickenpox?

If you’re pregnant and you haven’t had chickenpox, or you’re not sure if you have, avoid contact with anyone who has chickenpox or shingles.

If you do come into close contact with someone who has chickenpox or shingles, get medical advice immediately.

Your GP can do a blood test to check if you’re immune to the chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster virus or VZV). If you’re not, they may recommend an injection of varicella zoster immune globulin (VZIG). This can make the infection milder and not last as long.

What does ‘close contact’ mean?

Close contact means:

  • you’ve had face-to-face contact, such as a conversation
  • you’ve been in the same room for at least 15 minutes

What’s the treatment if I’m not immune?

Treatment can reduce the risk of rare complications that chickenpox can cause during pregnancy.

The VZIG injection boosts your immune system for a short time, but won’t necessarily stop chickenpox developing. It can usually be given up to 10 days after contact with chickenpox, as long as you haven’t developed a rash or blisters. The injection does not work once chickenpox has developed. For more information, see How is chickenpox treated during pregnancy?

A woman is potentially infectious from 8 to 28 days after the VZIG injection. It's not known whether the VZIG injection reduces the risk of a rare condition called foetal varicella syndrome (FVS) affecting the unborn baby.

For more information about FVS, see What are the risks of chickenpox during pregnancy?

If you have a VZIG injection, you may be infectious and your GP may advise you to avoid contact with other pregnant women for a certain amount of time.

Read the answers to more questions about pregnancy.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 11/12/2015

Next review due: 11/12/2017