Congenital varicella syndrome: A systematic review

J Obstet Gynaecol. 2016 Jul;36(5):563-6. doi: 10.3109/01443615.2015.1127905. Epub 2016 Mar 10.


Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a teratogen that can cross the placenta and cause the congenital varicella syndrome (CVS), which is characterised by multi-system anomalies. There have been 130 reported cases of CVS from 1947 to 2013. The estimated incidence of CVS was 0.59% and 0.84% for women infected with VZV during the entire pregnancy and for those infected the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, respectively. Nine cases were reported at 21-27 weeks of gestation and one case was identified at 36 weeks. Herpes zoster caused CVS in two cases. Regarding treatment, varicella zoster immunoglobulin treatment, irrespective of gestational age, should be considered in addition to antiviral drugs for women who have been exposed to or infected with virus.

Keywords: Chickenpox; congenital varicella syndrome; herpes zoster; pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chickenpox / congenital*
  • Chickenpox / transmission
  • Chickenpox / virology
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Fetal Diseases / virology
  • Gestational Age
  • Herpesvirus 3, Human*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / virology
  • Syndrome