Is my baby at risk
Genital warts and pregnancy don’t sound like a good mix, but unfortunately the two things often go together. The Human Papilloma Virus that causes genital warts is a very common infection – around 10% of the population is carrying the virus at any one time, and 1% actually has genital warts. This means there’s a real possibility that anyone who’s getting ready to give birth will have the infection or be at risk of catching it. With that in mind it helps to know what the concerns are.
The danger of an unborn child getting an HPV infection from its mother seems to be very low – suspected cases have been reported, but they’re rare. The risk is highest during birth itself and there is a possibility of serious diseases being the result. The worst is juvenile onset recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, usually known as JORRP. This condition develops when HPV infects the baby’s throat, and wart-like growths develop. In extreme cases these can obstruct the airway and cause death. It’s not easy to treat JORRP once it’s developed, so although it’s very rare the best option is to reduce the chances of it occurring.
The best solution is to avoid infection while you’re pregnant. Condoms help a little, but not very much; there’s still a considerable risk of catching the virus if you have sex with an infected person. Personal lubricants like Carraguard give more protection and you should try to use these whenever you can. Another good idea is to get an HPV vaccination; if you don’t have an infection this will prevent you catching the types of HPV that can cause genital warts.
Most HPV infections in newborn children happen because the mother has genital warts when she gives birth. Normally the rate of JORRP is about one case in every 50,000 births, but among women who have vaginal warts this goes up to one in 100. That’s a massive increase. If you’re within a few weeks of giving birth and find that you have genital warts it’s essential to have them treated in plenty of time; this will reduce the risk as much as possible. Because most removal methods can cause pain or scarring it’s best to allow some recovery time before you give birth.
Prevention always better than cure
Nobody wants to expose their newborn child to a potentially serious infection, so if you’re pregnant and have genital warts it’s vital to take every precaution you can. If you don’t think you’ve been infected with HPV do your best to stay that way; it’s much easier. On the other hand if you are at risk or infected it doesn’t need to be a serious problem; just keep an eye on things and have removal treatment in plenty of time before you give birth. Get rid of the genital warts and pregnancy will be a lot safer.
Genital Warts and Pregnancy