How herpes can cause stillbirth: We explain Usher’s saga

As three different people sue pop singer Usher for giving them herpes – one male and two female – one is speaking out saying that the virus cost her twins their lives.

The woman has claimed that having sex with Usher exposed her to herpes. It has not been made clear which of the two female plaintiffs has made this claim.

But the woman says that her twins, who were conceived following her relations with Usher, were stillborn because she had contracted herpes from him.

Pregnant women who have the virus have an increased risk of having a miscarriage or giving birth prematurely. Their babies can contract herpes while they are still in the womb, which can be fatal.


The Mayo Clinic lists the following as symptoms of herpes:

  • pain/itching: the genital area might be tender and irritated until the infection has cleared
  • bumps or blisters: these might be red or white and can occur weeks after an infection arises
  • ulcers: these can make urinating painful and result from blisters oozing or bleeding
  • scabs: crusted skin will appear as ulcers heal

Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease, of which there are two types: genital and oral. Both result in blister-like sores on the affected areas.

The disease is spread through sexual contact, and those infected with it may not know that they have the virus at first because it can lie dormant without signs or symptoms.

But the virus can flare up repeatedly and cause pain, sores, itching and flu-like symptoms.

Neonatal herpes can be passed to a baby one of three ways. The first occurs during the pregnancy, as babies can be exposed to the virus when they are still in-utero. This was the case with the twins born to one of the above pictured plaintiffs.

The second occurs when the baby is born and passes through an infected vagina. And the third occurs when a newborn is exposed to herpes through skin-to-skin contact with either its mother or another person with the virus who touches it.

The risk of the virus being transmitted when the baby is still in-utero is highest during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

When this occurs the virus is transmitted transplacentally, which leads to fetal death. 

There is not a cure for genital herpes, but medications that can lessen the symptoms of the disease and lessen your risk of giving it to partners are available.

Aside from medication, condoms also protect uninfected people from others who have the STD.

Among people who show symptoms of the virus, signs of infection are generally presented about two to 12 days after someone is exposed to it. 

And women with the disease have a higher risk of having a miscarriage or giving birth prematurely. But pregnant women with the disease can take anti-herpes medication towards the end of their pregnancy.

This medicine can reduce the woman’s risk of showing symptoms of herpes while giving birth. According to the CDC, doctors should perform C sections on women who show symptoms of herpes at the time of delivery.

You can reduce your risk of getting herpes by using latex condoms each time you have sex and making sure your partner tests negatively for the virus. And if your partner does have herpes, make sure they take their medication each day.