Objectives: To clarify the relationship between hydrops fetalis and parvovirus outbreaks in the community, seroprevalence of B19 antibody among women of childbearing age, and adverse effects of intrauterine B19 infection.
Methods: Sera were collected from 168 cases of hydrops fetalis which were diagnosed between 1987 and 1997 in Miyagi prefecture, Japan, from 232 healthy pregnant women in 1987 and 277 healthy pregnant women in 1997 in Miyagi, and from 48 women infected with B19 during pregnancy. The sera were examined for B19 IgG and IgM antibodies by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and for B19 DNA by polymerase chain reaction. The number of cases of erythema infectiosum in Miyagi had been monitored each month.
Results: Thirteen of the 168 cases of hydrops fetalis were found to be caused by intrauterine B19 infection and 12 of the 13 cases clustered in two periods of outbreaks of erythema infectiosum in the community. The positive rates of B19 IgG antibody between 1987 and 1997 were significantly different: 33% in 1987 and 46% in 1997. Nine of the 48 women infected during pregnancy showed adverse effects of the fetus: eight hydrops fetalis and one early abortion with positive B19 DNA. The fetal death rate (>12 weeks of gestation) among them was 15% (7/48), far higher than the calculated 1% among the general population. The nine mothers with adverse fetal outcomes had contact with the infectious source at the 16 weeks of gestation or earlier.
Conclusions: These data clearly showed a relationship between hydrops fetalis and parvovirus outbreaks in the community, and it may be important to follow the seroprevalence for an extrapolated period time to predict occurrence of hydrops fetalis caused by B19. Also the data indicated that the gestational week infection occurred is the most important determinant of an adverse effect to the fetus as described previously.