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    Chicken Pox during Pregnancy (This case is also posted in Medico-Legal Forum)

    This case reported in the recent Case Book of MPS discusses Chicken Pox in a mother who was expecting. This lady who had a normal 4 year old son was 8 weeks pregnant when her son contracted chicken pox. She was worried and rang her doctor to enquire if there was any risk to the foetus. The surgery receptionist reassured her and told her that there was no cause for worry and only German measles or rubella would carry a risk. She was not given an appointment to see her doctor.

    Soon after this she developed similar spots as her son and panicked about her pregnancy. The surgery gave her an appointment to see her doctor after her husband demanded it. The doctor who saw her made no notes of the appointment but reassured her and told her that there was no risk to her pregnancy from chicken pox.

    She had a normal full term delivery and the baby looked healthy. However at 3 months a squint was noticed. A paediatrician who examined the baby also noted an abnormal posture. With a history of chicken pox at 8 weeks gestation a diagnosis of Congenital Varicella Syndrome was made.

    The child developed severe visual impairment, asymmetrical 4 limb motor disorder, scoliosis and learning difficulties.

    The mother sued the doctor. The Experts who examined the case concluded that the standard of care was indefensible. They said that varicella antibody testing should have been done as soon as the mother came in contact with the infection. If Varicella IgG had been negative then the mother should have been offered Varicella Zoster Immune Globulin. There was not much benefit in giving VZIG when the mother already had the spots.

    The case was settled for a “high figure”

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