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Low Herpes Antibody Avidity in Moms Puts Infants at Risk

Herpes simplex virus antibody avidity increases over time

MONDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant women with a genital herpes simplex virus-1 or -2 infection are more likely to transmit the virus to a newborn if the herpes simplex virus antibody avidity is low, researchers report in the July issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Elizabeth L. Brown, Ph.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues compared herpes simplex virus-1 and virus-2 avidity in women who transmitted the virus to newborns and women who did not. They developed a novel avidity test using a commercially available herpes simplex virus-1 test.

In a non-pregnant test group, the researchers found that herpes simplex virus-1 antibody avidity increased with time since viral acquisition. In a group of women who were seropositive for herpes simplex virus at the time of delivery, 50 percent of pregnant women (four of eight) with an avidity of 40 or less transmitted the virus to their newborns, compared with just 12 percent (12 of 97 women) with avidity greater than 40, the researchers report.

In an editorial, Michael K. Lindsay, M.D., of Emory University in Atlanta, writes: "This is an important paper, which further advances our understanding of the pathophysiology of genital and neonatal herpes infection."

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