Mother’s Graphic Photo Shows The Scary Side Of Letting Friends Kiss Your Baby

Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
When you see a sweet little adorable baby, of course you just want to gobble 'em up with kisses. But, as new mom Claire Henderson learned, smooches with cold sores can spell trouble for an infant. You probably know that the vast majority of adults has some version of the herpes simplex virus (HSV). About 70% of adults in the U.S. have HSV-1, the form of the virus that is more commonly associated with herpes on your mouth (commonly referred to as cold sores). And approximately one in six of us has HSV-2, the form of the virus that is more commonly associated with genital herpes. Although they can be painful, annoying, and definitely contagious, we have effective ways of minimizing and preventing outbreaks. Related: What I Decided To Do When He Told Me He Had Genital Herpes But, as Henderson discovered, the story can be very different for infants. Most of us get the herpes virus in our childhoods, but it's relatively rare in infants (somewhere around 10 cases per 100,000 births). About 90% of those neonatal herpes cases are caused by HSV-2 contracted in the birth canal, but Claire's baby, Brooke, got a kiss on the mouth and began developing the symptoms of HSV. Related: This Experimental Vaccine Could Mean The End Of Herpes Because an infant's immune system isn't as developed as our adults ones are, what's just routine annoyance for us can be extremely serious (in rare cases, fatal) for them as the virus may spread to the liver, lungs, and brain. Thankfully, Claire noticed the signs early. Brooke will have to spend five days in the hospital, but she was still "very lucky," says Claire in a Facebook post warning other new moms, which has now been shared over 35,000 times. Related: What It REALLY Means To Have Herpes So, although it may be hard to resist, kissing that little cherub on the mouth is not a good idea if you've got HSV. If you can wait until that baby is a few months older, his or her tiny immune system will be better able to handle your totally well-intentioned onslaught of adoration.

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