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"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.
The chances of transmission are highest when a woman acquires genital herpes late in pregnancy.
About half of infants who are treated with antiviral medication escape permanent damage.There is also a small risk of transmission from asymptomatic shedding (when the virus reactivates without causing any symptoms).Fortunately, babies of mothers with long-standing herpes infections have a natural protection against the virus.In about 90% of cases, neonatal herpes is transmitted when an infant comes into contact with HSV- 1 or 2 in the birth canal during delivery.There is a high risk of transmission if the mother has an active outbreak, because the likelihood of viral shedding during an outbreak is high.