Epidemiology and Infection

Herpes simplex virus type-2 antibodies in pregnant women: the impact of the stage of pregnancy

A. ESKILD a1c1, S. JEANSSON a2, J. A. HAGEN a1, P. A. JENUM a3 and A. SKRONDAL a1
a1 Department of Population Health Sciences, National Institute of Public Health, Norway
a2 Department of Microbiology, Ullevaal University Hospital, University of Oslo, Norway
a3 Department of Bacteriology, National Institute of Public Health, Norway


In this study the impact of pregnancy duration on the measured level of HSV-2 antibodies was assessed. The study population comprised 35940 pregnant women in Norway, in 1992–4, followed during pregnancy. A random sample of 960 women was selected. A mean of 2·6 serum samples from each woman were analysed for HSV-2 specific IgG antibodies at different times in pregnancy. Crude and adjusted odds ratios were estimated in logistic regression models taking all observations per women into account. Twenty-seven percent of the pregnant women had antibodies against HSV-2 in the first trimester. The adjusted odds ratio of being HSV-2 antibody positive decreased during the pregnancy and was 0·5 (0·2–0·9, 95% confidence interval) in the 40th as compared to the 10th week of pregnancy. About 50% of initially HSV-2 positive women did not have detecable antibodies by the end of the pregnancy. This may be explained by haemodilution during pregnancy. Our findings have diagnostic implications and should encourage further studies.

(Accepted May 25 2000)

c1 Author for correspondence: Department of Population Health Sciences, National Institute of Public Health, PO Box 4404 Torshov, N-0403 Oslo, Norway.