If you develop shingles during pregnancy, it will not pass on to your baby. However, research does indicate there’s a genetic component to the condition.
After you have chickenpox, the virus that causes the condition, varicella zoster, goes dormant in your body. Much later, even years later, it can reactivate and cause shingles, an itchy, painful rash that appears on one side of the body.
If you develop shingles during pregnancy, it will not harm the baby or pass on to them. This is because your body already had the varicella zoster virus before developing shingles. No research has been done into whether varicella zoster passes through sperm.
Current research is lacking but suggests there is a genetic link to shingles. If you have a family member who had shingles, your risk of
So, while parents do not pass the active virus on to their children, they may pass a propensity to develop it on through the function of their immune system.
Shingles can appear at any age, but it’s rare in children and common after age 50. Most research on the genetic link of shingles is older and inconclusive on whether it’s actively passed on to children by their parents through genetics. This doesn’t refer to transmission by touch, but rather through genetic makeup.
One case study from
Though genetics play some role in whether a person develops shingles during their lifetime, the link is still unclear to researchers. It may be due to the genetic makeup of the immune system. The HLA-B gene helps the body determine which proteins belong to the body and which are invaders. Changes to this gene, and other immune system genes, may increase a child’s risk of developing shingles later in life.
The 2017 study above, published in the
The participants self-reported their family history of developing shingles, and a weak link was found between having a family member who had previously had shingles and experiencing developing shingles themselves. The mean age in this study was 72.
Researchers included a comment that for people in the control group, memories of shingles in their families may not have been as clear as for those currently experiencing shingles themselves.
If a pregnant person develops shingles, they will not pass it to the baby. Shingles only pass through direct contact with the fluid of the blisters of the rash. Even then, the person who touches the fluid is at risk of developing chickenpox, not shingles.
Some people are at
Shingles causes an itchy, painful rash that develops years after you have chickenpox. This is because the virus that causes chickenpox goes dormant in your body and later reactivates as shingles.
There’s a weak genetic link to shingles, although researchers do not understand it well, and studies are lacking. It cannot pass on during pregnancy. No studies have evaluated the transmissibility of the virus through sperm.
Parents may pass on genetic changes in the immune system that make the body more susceptible to shingles as you age.