Chicken pox FAQ

Is chicken pox more dangerous for some children?

Children with immune problems can have significant problems if infected with chicken pox. These include those children infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, those with cancer, those on steroids for other illnesses, and newborn babies.

Should my child with chicken pox avoid pregnant women?

Yes. If the pregnant woman has definitely had chicken pox in the past there should not a risk of exposing the fetus to the virus. However, to be on the safe side, children with chicken pox should avoid coming in contact with pregnant women.

What is the danger to the fetus if a pregnant woman gets chicken pox?

Essentially the risk is rather small depending upon how far along the pregnancy is. However, it is not insignificant. For a more in-depth discussion about this topic, I suggest reading my previous question "Chicken Pox and Pregnancy".

Can someone get chicken pox more than once?

Almost never. Except for children and adults who have immune system problems, getting chicken pox confers life-long immunity. Now, the minute I say never, someone will come up with a story about how he or one of his family got it twice. While this is a possibility, it is extremely rare. Most of the time, these stories turn out that the original chicken pox "infection" was a rash that was mistaken for chicken pox.

What can be done to prevent chicken pox?

The most effective way to prevent chicken pox in children is to get the vaccine. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children over 12 months of age receive this vaccine. The vaccine licensed in the U.S. has been used for a little over six years now and immunity has been holding relatively strong. About 95 percent of children remain immune after six years. However, because it is not 100 percent, these children will most likely require booster shots as an adult. This is where the controversy comes in. Adults typically do not followup with their booster shots, and chicken pox is more deadly in adults. Therefore, many are concerned about passing on the illness to adults who receive the chicken pox shot but become unknowingly susceptible to chicken pox due to waning immunity.

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