Fifth Disease and Pregnancy
In most cases, there are no serious complications for an expectant woman who has fifth disease, and her unborn baby usually has no problems. In rare cases, however, fifth disease during pregnancy can cause the unborn baby to have severe anemia and may cause the woman to have a miscarriage. Healthcare providers often recommend additional prenatal visits for pregnant women who have this disease.
About 50 percent of women are already immune to parvovirus B19 (the virus that causes fifth disease), and these women and their babies are protected from infection and illness. Even if a woman is susceptible and gets infected with parvovirus B19, however, she usually experiences only a mild illness. Likewise, her unborn baby usually does not have any problems as a result of parvovirus B19 infection.
In rare cases, however, parvovirus B19 infection can cause the unborn baby to have severe anemia, and the woman may have a miscarriage (see Miscarriage After Fifth Disease).
There is no universally recommended approach to monitor a pregnant woman who has a documented parvovirus B19 infection. Some physicians treat fifth disease in a pregnant woman as a low-risk condition, and continue to provide routine prenatal care. Other physicians may increase the frequency of doctor visits, and perform blood tests and ultrasound examinations to monitor the health of the unborn baby.
The benefit of these tests in this situation, however, is not clear. If the unborn baby appears to be ill, special diagnostic and treatment options are available, and your obstetrician (doctor specializing in childbirth) will discuss these options with you, along with their potential benefits and risks.