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Incidence of Neonatal Herpes Varies by Region, Insurance

Rates higher in Midwest and among Medicaid-covered patients

TUESDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Neonatal herpes simplex virus (nHSV) is relatively rare, but more common among Midwestern newborns and those covered by public health insurance, according to research published online Dec. 13 in Pediatrics.

Elaine W. Flagg, Ph.D., and Hillard Weinstock, M.D., M.P.H., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, examined inpatient records of infants up to 60 days of age to estimate and geographically and demographically characterize the incidence of nHSV.

The researchers determined the overall incidence of nHSV in the United States to be 9.6 per 100,000 births in 2006, ranging from 8.2 in the Northeast to 12.9 in the Midwest. Rates were significantly higher among individuals covered by Medicaid (15.1) than those with private insurance and managed health care (5.4); also, rates differed, though not significantly, among black, white, and Hispanic newborns, at 13.8, 9.9, and 7.5 per 100,000 births, respectively.

"This description of regional and demographic-specific nHSV incidence rates for the United States provides important new information on the extent of this potentially devastating disease," the authors write.

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