• Français

Parvovirus B19

Maternal pregnancy complications


Parvovirus B19 infection, also called fifth disease, causes flu-like symptoms 


Routine screening for parvovirus is not recommended.

However, if a pregnant woman is in regular contact with children aged 4 to 11 or if she has been in contact with an affected child, she must tell her doctor and have a blood test to determine immunity.


The symptoms of the infection resemble those of the flu. They include:

  • Fever
  • Muscle pain (myalgia)
  • Headaches 

It should be noted that a large proportion of people infected with the virus do not have any symptoms.

A few days after the appearance of possible symptoms, the infection causes a rash (appearance of spots on the skin). The face then becomes swollen, taking on the appearance of a sunburn, before spreading to the torso and extremities. There is also pain in the joints, which disappears after a few days.

Impact on pregnancy

The infection reaches the fetus through the placenta of the mother, but does not cause birth defects. However the fetus can experience anemia (low red blood cells), a drop in platelet count, and changes in heart function.

In the final stage of the infection, the fetus can develop anasarca (a generalized swelling under the skin), also called fetal hydrops – a serious condition that can result in the death of the fetus.

Treatment and follow-up care

  • How long ago the infection was acquired is first established.
  • A Doppler ultrasound is performed to monitor the fetus for three months after an infection.
  • In the case of severe fetal anemia, the need for an intrauterine transfusion (in a specialized centre) is assessed.
Page by

Joanne Moreau, inf. clinicienne et Dre Isabelle Boucoiran

About this page
Updated on 1/25/2021
Created on 12/19/2017
Alert or send a suggestion

Every dollar counts!

Thank you for your generosity.

It is thanks to donors such as you that we are able to accelerate research discoveries, to heal more children every year and to continue to offer world-class care.

It is also possible to give by mail or by calling toll-free

1-888-235-DONS (3667)

Contact Us

514 345-4931


© 2006-2014 CHU Sainte-Justine.
All rights reserved. 
Terms of Use,  Confidentiality,  Security


All information contained within the CHU Sainte-Justine site should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a duly qualified and authorized medical practitioner or any other health professional. The information provided on this site is intended for educational and informational purposes only.

Consult your physician if you feel ill or call 911 for any medical emergency.

CHU Sainte-Justine