Can You Pass HPV on to Your Unborn Child?

By Arleah DiFebbo

HPV, or the human papilloma virus, is a sexually transmitted disease that causes venereal or genital warts. If a woman is infected with HPV and then becomes pregnant, there is a rare chance it can be passed on to the baby.


While some infected people show no symptoms, HPV is identified by the size, shape and color of the genital warts it sometimes produces. These warts can be flat bumps or cauliflower-like growths, and they can range in color from pale to dark pink.


A baby can develop a condition known as respiratory papillomatosis, or RRP, if his mother is infected with HPV. Respiratory papillomatosis can lead to lesions on the infant's vocal cords and sometimes disrupt breathing. However, the American Social Health Association says the risk of RRP is very small and that it is a treatable condition.


Treatment of HPV in pregnant women is sometimes recommended. Heidi Murkoff, author of "What to Expect When You're Expecting," says topical medication can be prescribed during pregnancy and even laser therapy, freezing or electrical heat can be used to remove large genital warts.


Certain strains of HPV has been shown to cause cervical cancer in approximately 10 percent of women with genital warts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.


A vaccine is now available for females ages 11 to 26 years old, which protects against the four types of HPV most responsible for causing cervical cancer.

About the Author

Arleah DiFebbo currently freelances for a variety of websites, including Before her freelance occupation, DiFebbo reported for the Lifestyles and Education beats at the Cleveland Daily Banner in Cleveland, TN. DiFebbo also wrote a weekly editorial/community events column. She obtained her journalism degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.