Neonatal herpes simplex virus infection: epidemiology and treatment

Clin Perinatol. 2015 Mar;42(1):47-59, viii. doi: 10.1016/j.clp.2014.10.005. Epub 2014 Dec 4.


Herpes simplex virus types 1 (HSV-1) and 2 (HSV-2) are highly prevalent viruses capable of establishing lifelong infection. Genital herpes in women of childbearing age represents a major risk for mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HSV infection, with primary and first-episode genital HSV infections posing the highest risk. The advent of antiviral therapy with parenteral acyclovir has led to significant improvement in neonatal HSV disease mortality. Further studies are needed to improve the clinician's ability to identify infants at increased risk for HSV infection and prevent MTCT, and to develop novel antiviral agents with increased efficacy in infants with HSV infection.

Keywords: Antiviral therapy; Genital herpes; Herpes simplex virus; Mother-to-child transmission; Neonatal herpes; Polymerase chain reaction; Pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acyclovir / therapeutic use*
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Encephalitis, Herpes Simplex / drug therapy
  • Encephalitis, Herpes Simplex / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Herpes Genitalis / drug therapy*
  • Herpes Genitalis / epidemiology
  • Herpes Simplex / drug therapy
  • Herpes Simplex / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Keratitis, Herpetic / drug therapy
  • Keratitis, Herpetic / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / drug therapy*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Acyclovir

Supplementary concepts

  • Neonatal herpes