We investigated the comparative seroepidemiology of varicella zoster virus (VZV) in pregnant women of two ethnic groups, white British and Bangladeshi, living in an inner city area of London, United Kingdom. Women aged 16-45 years were recruited from antenatal clinics of the Royal London Hospital in the Borough of Tower Hamlets. Complete data were obtained from 275 white British and 765 Bangladeshi women. VZV antibody prevalence was 93.1% (95% CI 89.4 - 95.8) and 86.0% (95% CI 83.3 - 88.4) respectively. Women who were born in Bangladesh and lived there at least until the age of 15 years had the lowest odds of being immune (OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.22 - 0.63). This implies they will have an increased risk of varicella during pregnancy. Women arriving in the United Kingdom in adulthood should be screened routinely during pregnancy and vaccination offered postpartum if they are susceptible.
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