Viral infections during pregnancy

Am J Reprod Immunol. 2015 Mar;73(3):199-213. doi: 10.1111/aji.12355. Epub 2015 Jan 13.


Viral infections during pregnancy have long been considered benign conditions with a few notable exceptions, such as herpes virus. The recent Ebola outbreak and other viral epidemics and pandemics show how pregnant women suffer worse outcomes (such as preterm labor and adverse fetal outcomes) than the general population and non-pregnant women. New knowledge about the ways the maternal-fetal interface and placenta interact with the maternal immune system may explain these findings. Once thought to be 'immunosuppressed', the pregnant woman actually undergoes an immunological transformation, where the immune system is necessary to promote and support the pregnancy and growing fetus. When this protection is breached, as in a viral infection, this security is weakened and infection with other microorganisms can then propagate and lead to outcomes, such as preterm labor. In this manuscript, we review the major viral infections relevant to pregnancy and offer potential mechanisms for the associated adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Keywords: Infection; placenta; polymicrobial; pregnancy; trophoblast; virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coinfection
  • Congenital Abnormalities / etiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / immunology
  • HIV Infections / congenital
  • HIV Infections / embryology
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Hepatitis, Viral, Human / embryology
  • Hepatitis, Viral, Human / immunology
  • Hepatitis, Viral, Human / transmission
  • Herpesviridae Infections / embryology
  • Herpesviridae Infections / immunology
  • Herpesviridae Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical
  • Influenza, Human / embryology
  • Influenza, Human / immunology
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange / immunology
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / etiology
  • Placenta / immunology
  • Placenta / virology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / immunology*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / virology
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Risk
  • Rubella / embryology
  • Rubella / immunology
  • Rubella / transmission
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*
  • Virus Diseases / transmission