In a new study it was revealed that up to 72% of new mothers with HPV transmit the virus to their newborns. – European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
“Vertical transmission of HPV is associated with vaginal delivery.” This is according to the European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology. (April, 2013) (1)
The new study is in agreement with other recent findings which noted that transmission of HPV to infants can result in babies with genital warts. It can also result in cauliflower-like growths elsewhere on the body, and even tumors in the throat. ( BMC Infectious Diseases, 2013) (2)
Additionally, “Although there is overwhelming evidence for the sexual transmission of high-risk HPV genotypes, several studies have examined other routes, such as vertical transmission before or during childbirth, direct contact during labor, or horizontal transmission among children through contact with infected skin lesions.” (Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2004) (3)
With that said, “The most frequently detected HPV genotype in pregnant women and newborns was HPV-16.” (1)
The National Cancer Institutes states that “Virtually all cervical cancers are caused by HPV infections, with just two HPV types, 16 and 18, responsible for about 70 percent of all cases.” (4)
In light of the studies mentioned above, it makes sense to try and prevent transmission of HPV from mother to baby. WebMD says that, “Experts disagree about the value of a cesarean section in trying to prevent HPV transmission from mother to newborn baby. Some say it could offer some protection against HPV for the baby.” (5)
In other words, some doctors believe that even if a mother has a cesarean section, the baby may still wind up infected with HPV.
(1) H.S. Hahna, M.K. Keeb, H.J. Kimc, M.Y. Kima, Y.S. Kangd, J.S. Parke, T.J. Kima, “Distribution of maternal and infant human papillomavirus: risk factors associated with vertical transmission” Volume 169, Issue 2, July 2013, Pages 202–206
(2) Ying Hong123*, Shu-Qin Li, Ya-Li Hu and Zhi-Qun Wang “Survey of human papillomavirus types and their vertical transmission in pregnant women” BMC Infectious Diseases 2013, 13:109
(3) Smith EM1, Ritchie JM, Yankowitz J, Swarnavel S, Wang D, Haugen TH, Turek LP. “Human papillomavirus prevalence and types in newborns and parents: concordance and modes of transmission.” Sex Transm Dis. 2004 Jan;31(1):57-62.
(4) National Cancer Institute – HPV and Cancer
(5) WebMD – Sexual Conditions Health Center – Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD on September 26, 2014