While discussing South Park with a friend, the subject of chicken pox came up and my friend asserted that chicken pox was always mild in babies. Being an insufferable pedant, I picked up on the word “always” and queried the claim.
As I didn’t have access to Pubmed (or the CDC or HPA pages on chicken pox) at the time, I pointed out that I was going to find it difficult to prove them wrong. Fortunately, they had a solution. Long story short: when Any Question Answered sent their reply, they pointed out that (while chicken pox was more serious for older children and adults) there could sometimes be complications of chicken pox in children younger than four weeks of age. That was enough for me to win my pub argument. But I thought I’d like to see what a more reliable source might have to say…
Info on complications from the HPA’s General Information page:
Chickenpox is usually a mild illness and most healthy children recover with no complications.
Certain groups of people however, such as neonates (infants within the first four weeks of life), adults, pregnant women and those who are immunocompromised due to illness or treatments such as chemotherapy or high-dose steroids, may experience more serious complications. These include viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial infections and encephalitis.
Guidelines available from here.
Sources of Information
While AQA’s answer seems to have been correct on this occasion, I doubt it would be wise to rely on AQA to answer medical questions. I would point out, however, that the AQA service was (on this occasion) the provider of information far more reliable than that provided by the execrable Find a Pox Party in Your Area group on Facebook.
The important thing to remember here is that I won my pub bet.
Update, 6 Nov 2011
Incredibly, it’s been reported that the morons from the Find A Pox Party group on Facebook have been sending pox-infected items in the mail.
Pics or it Didn’t Happen