Parvovirus in pregnancy


What is Parvovirus?

Parvovirus B19 (also called slap cheek syndrome or Fifth Disease) is a virus that commonly affects children.

The virus is very contagious. It can spread by respiratory droplets (coughing and sneezing) or through contact with blood.

What illness does Parvovirus B19 cause?

It commonly causes a mild rash-like illness. The child typically has a slapped cheek rash on the face and lacy rash on the trunk and limbs.

An adult who is infected may have no symptoms at all but may develop a rash, joint pain and swelling.

It is thought that 60% of all adults in the UK have been infected with Parvovirus and are therefore immune.

The most infectious period is 7-10 days before the rash appears.

Contact with Parvovirus in pregnancy

A blood test can be performed to check your antibody status. This will either –

  • Confirm you are immune and so not at risk.
  • That you have never had the infection so are susceptible
  • That you currently have the infection

The midwife will contact you and discuss the result.

Confirmed Parvovirus infection in pregnancy

You will be able to have a discussion with the Fetal Medicine midwife or appropriately trained professional regarding your blood result and its implications.

Usually exposure to this virus in pregnancy will not result in serious harm to your baby.

However, in a small number of cases the virus can be passed from mother to baby and cause the baby to become anaemic (a condition where the baby does not have enough healthy red blood cells).


You will be referred to the Fetal Medicine Clinic and be given an appointment with the Consultant Obstetrician.

Regular scans will be performed which will include monitoring of baby’s growth and wellbeing.

In addition, an MCA (middle cerebral arterial) doppler scan will be performed too.

This scan is to check for any signs of fetal anaemia.

Rarely if anaemia is severe then a referral to the tertiary centre in Bristol Fetal Medicine Unit, St Michaels Hospital will be completed.

An appointment and scan will be given. If baby requires treatment, then this will be explained on the day.

Treatment can be an intra uterine blood transfusion (through the womb).

This treatment is successful in reversing anaemia in most cases.


Please contact your Fetal Medicine Midwife if you have any questions or concerns on either:

Contact Numbers

Royal Gwent Hospital 01633 234747

Nevill Hall Hospital 01873 732390 or 01873 732391

Improving the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of expectant mothers, infants, children and young people throughout Aneurin Bevan University Health Board Area.

(N.B: The Family and Therapies team at ABUHB is NOT responsible for the content on the webpage links that we refer to in our resource sections and linked information to external sites. All information was accurate and appropriate at the time the webpage was created.)

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