Herpes simplex drugs and birth defects

Herpes simplex is becoming quite prevalent, with over one percent of all women acquiring the disease within the first three months of their pregnancies.  Coinciding with this fact is the growing need for antiviral treatment for many women at some point during their pregnancies.

The common antiviral treatments that are prescribed are valacyclovir, acyclovir, and famcilovir and although while they are thought to be safe drugs the specific data about their use during early pregnancy is very few and far between.

A group of scientists from The Copenhagen Statens Serum Institut conducted a study that would show how the drugs were related to birth defects when given to mothers during their first three months of pregnancy.  The study looked at almost 838,000 infants born in Denmark between the years of 1996 and 2008 and all participants displayed no prior evidence or diagnosis of genetic or chromosomal abnormalities.

Of the 18000 pregnancies in which one of the three medications were used during the first three months of pregnancy about 2.2% of infants were discovered to have a major birth defect compared against the national average of birth defects in society as a whole which sits at 2.4%.

Therefore, the drugs were not found to be associated with any heightened risk of birth defects if used during the first trimester of pregnancy.  Further study and analysis found that the drugs were not associated with any particular subgroup of birth defects either although it was recognized that the exposed cases that could be considered within each subgroup of birth defects was quite small.

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