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How Does Parvovirus B19 Affect Pregnancy & What Are The F.A.Q’s?

Parvovirus B19 infection is an asymptomatic condition but approximately 3% of pregnant women produce serious complications.1

It can increase the chances of birth defects in babies and there is up to a 33% risk of passing the infection to the baby.2

Parvovirus is typically diagnosed through a blood test to check for the antibodies in the virus.3

Parvovirus B19, also known as the Human Parvovirus, is a category of parvovirus affecting most commonly in pregnant women. The virus has the potential to cause a serious infection that can spread from one to another.

Medical studies demonstrate that children tend to develop this infection however most cases are asymptomatic with mild or no problems.

Nevertheless, adults develop a range of complications and can turn serious.

How Does Parvovirus B19 Affect Pregnancy?

When parvovirus enters the human body, it attacks the healthy red blood cells and the production of the mature cells is immediately stopped. Although it is a self-limiting benign virus affecting childhood, severe infection during pregnancy can cause problems in the unborn resulting in the excessive accumulation of fetal fluid within the fetal extravascular compartments leading to a variety of disorders and sometimes fetal death.1

Scientific, Data-Driven, And Clinical Features Of Parvovirus B19

Parvovirus B19 is a common childhood virus however when pregnant women contract this infection, it can result in fetal problems. This virus can lead to erythema infectiosum, an acute viral infection that causes a blotchy or raised red rash, and a slapped-cheek red rash on the face with minimal discomfort.

When discussing on its epidemiology, clinical theories state that Parvovirus B19 is a non-developed DNA virus that comes under the family of Parvoviridae (a linear, ssDNA genome of about 4 to 6 kb in size) that replicates through a rolling hairpin mechanism.

The virus spreads through respiratory secretions like mucus and saliva and blood transmit. This typically affects the erythroid precursor cells in bone marrow producing cell death of the mature red blood cells.2

The infection is very common throughout the world because of its transmissible characteristics. Although it spreads slowly, in some instances, there are larger outbreaks that can persist for months. The percentage of people acquiring this condition increases with age and adults over 50 years of age have an increased risk of developing Parvovirus infection.

Pregnant women who are involved in an occupation such as schoolteachers, daycare, workers, and women with school going kids at home are highly susceptible to this infection. When the pregnant mother develops infections in early pregnancy, there are 3-5 % chances for the fetus to develop birth defects.3

What Are The F.A.Q’s Related To Parvovirus B19 During Pregnancy?

Parvovirus B19 infection during pregnancy generally does not produce symptoms. However, a small percentage of women produce complications such as severe anemia, nonimmune hydrops fetalis, and even fetal demise.

What Are The Complications Of Parvovirus B19?

Parvovirus B19 can trigger chronic anemia when the human body doesn’t contain healthy red blood cells. Swollen joints are a classic symptom of parvovirus and are common in adults.

Can Parvovirus Affect Pregnant Humans?

Parvovirus causes Fifth disease, a mild rash illness common in children but can also affect adults, especially pregnant women.

Is Parvovirus B19 Contagious?

Yes, Parvovirus B19, is a common and highly contagious viral disease that can spread from person to person. It can spread through blood, so the pregnant woman can pass the virus to her baby. The virus spread through contact with respiratory secretions as well, so when the person sneeze or cough, it can travel several feet.


  1. Giorgio, Elsa, et al. “Parvovirus B19 during Pregnancy: a Review.” Journal of Prenatal Medicine, CIC Edizioni Internazionali, Oct. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3279187/.
  2. Kate Marple|Medically reviewed byAaron Deutsch, M.D. “Fifth Disease (Parvovirus B19) during Pregnancy.” BabyCenter, www.babycenter.com/pregnancy/health-and-safety/fifth-disease-parvovirus-b19-during-pregnancy_1463060.
  3. Clinic, Occupational Health. “Vanderbilt Faculty & Staff Health and Wellness.” Parvovirus B19 Exposure in Pregnancy | Vanderbilt Faculty & Staff Health and Wellness, www.vumc.org/health-wellness/news-resource-articles/parvovirus-b19-exposure-pregnancy.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 17, 2020

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