laryngeal papillomatosis

Although its said to be rare Is laryngeal papillomatosis likely to be passed during childbirth if the mother has had HPV for some time? 


No, it is not. The strains of HPV which can cause cervical cancer and cervix abnormalities are 16 and 18. The strains of HPV that can cause laryngeal papillomatosis are 6 and 11. Apart from the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that any strain of HPV can be passed from mother to child during childbirth, the strains which can lead to these different conditions are different - one cannot turn into the other. There are lots of different strains of HPV and they are very separate from one another in terms of what they can cause. For example, the HPV which can cause genital warts is different from the HPV which can cause warts on your hands and both are different from the HPV which can lead to cervical cancer or cervical abnormalities. 

I am aware that it says on Wikipedia that laryngeal papillomatosis can be caused in children by the mother passing HPV during childbirth. This is irresponsible nonsense and shouldn't be on there. I am a Research Academic and I can absolutely guarantee the utter unreliability of Wikipedia - it's rubbish and should never be used to look up anything important or serious!! 

I hope this helps to reassure you. 

Annabel. x

thank you for reply Annabel


i didnt think he would be able to get it but just wondered if anyone had more knowledge on the matter 

thanks again :)

Annabel, thanks for your insightful and helpful information.
I have recurrent cc and it’s always a worry for me about my HPV status, even though I have had chemoradiation and my oncologist says I needn’t worry about being an infection risk myself or being re-infected by my husband etc (neither of us has been tested for HPV but I guess it’s highly likely given my diagnosis). Are there any precautions I should take, say with other family members sharing towels, bath
water, etc. What if I have a vaginal discharge, is that likely to increase the risk?


I'm very sorry to hear about your recurrence. I can understand you worrying about your HPV status, and the amount of nonsense on the internet (and believe me, there is more nonsense than truth talked about HPV!) doesn't help! 

If your cervical cancer was/is adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma then yes, you will have had HPV. These things cannot develop in the first place without the presence of persistent HPV, generally over many many years. In terms of you having infected your husband, the risk to him is minimal. As I'm sure you know, most people clear HPV naturally, without even knowing they've had it. It's those in the minority - such as you and me - who are unable to clear it naturally and for whom it can go on to cause CIN/CGIN and then cancer, in some cases. There is no reason to think that your husband is also someone who is unable to naturally clear HPV, so the chances are, you gave it to him the first time you had sex and that his body cleared it naturally. The current, most up to date thinking in medical science is that you can only get HPV once. So, for example, you might be worried that even if your husband can clear HPV naturally, that you keep reinfecting him. That won't happen because if his body has cleared it naturally, he will now be immune to that strain of HPV. There is also a theory currently being explored - and is looking more and more likely as time goes on - that if you are someone who has been unable to clear HPV naturally, and you receive treatment for something that HPV has caused, such as cancer or CIN, once that is cured, this triggers the immune response to HPV in your body that should have been triggered when you originally contracted it, therefore clearing the HPV and again, making you immune to that strain. So you won't be doing the 'ping pong' infection and re-infection thing with your husband as it really does look at the moment like you can only get it once. 

There is no evidence, and no reason to think, that you can contract HPV by using the same towel or bath water etc... as someone who has HPV. There is even stuff on the internet that says you can get it from inanimate objects (so, for example, if someone has touched a table that you then touch, you can get it!) I really cannot emphasize enough what utter rubbish this is! You need to have very close contact with someone to contract it from them. HPV does not live in the bloodstream or on your surface skin cells. HPV is a local virus (meaning it stays in one place) and enters the body through an area of 'weakness' called the transformation zone, which is an area in your cervix where two different types of cells meet. It then lives in your cervix. It can't magically turn up in your sneezes or on your fingers. :-) 

I know it feels like it is the HPV which is the issue, because if you didn't have HPV then you wouldn't have ended up with cancer. But it's really not the issue and you are not a risk to other people. The issue, medically, is that your body didn't clear the HPV. There is still a lot that medical science doesn't know about HPV but believe me, the vast majority of stuff on the internet about is at best, misinformed and at worst, made up BS!! Don't worry about your HPV status, just focus on keeping as well and healthy as you can so you can kick the cancer out of your body! 

Take care, 

Annabel. x


Thank you Annabel your response is really helpful and reassuring. I have been visiting American sites similar to Jo’s and have noticed a lot of discussion on there about re-infection, practicing abstinence to avoid re-infection, how condoms do not guarantee protection, etc and I notice that testing for HPV is quite common in the US. As you say, having cc is pretty much enough you need to know to confirm that you are carrying the virus. In that case it makes the testing pretty pointless under the circumstances.
It would be interesting to read more on the subject if you have any good references/links that you are willing to share. In the meantime you are clearly an asset to the forum and for that I am very grateful!

Hi Annallan, 

I'm so sorry - I've only just seen this! If you want, I will try and track down a paper on this. I'm not sure how far it's got - if it hasn't gone to peer review yet, then it won't be published yet, but I'll look into it and let you know. I'll have a hunt! :-) 

You're right - having cervical cancer is more than enough information regarding your HPV status! There's so much nonsense on the internet about HPV - some of it really rather hysterical - that I'm not surprised that there are those kinds of discussions going on on American sites. HPV testing is pointless unless it's done over a long period of time. For example, you could test someone for HPV today and it could be positive - it actually doesn't mean anything unless you test them again at a later stage. If you test them again in say, two years time, and they STILL have HPV, then there's a case for putting them on more regular smears, for example, but no programme like that exists in this country. And to be honest, there's no real reason to think this would be more effective than the national screening programme that we are so lucky to have (we are the only country in the world to have such a thing!!) which pretty much makes sense and covers most bases. Nothing is perfect, and personally I think the screening age should be lowered to 21, but even as it is at the moment, it's a pretty amazing thing that saves thousands of lives each year. Quite understandably, people mistakenly feel that HPV is the issue and is the thing to be frightened of. It isn't. The issue isn't the HPV, the issue is why those who don't clear it, don't clear it! As I said, they don't know the answer to that yet, but when they do, that will be a massive breakthrough. The most likely thing is that there is a gene component involved (which is not the same thing as saying that it's genetic, by the way), but in the meantime, we've now got the HPV vaccine, so it will be interesting to see what impact that makes over the next 20 years. 

Thanks so much for your kind words - I'm really touched - I'm glad that you've found me helpful and reassuring. I will let you know if I find any suitable reading material! :-) 

Take care, 

Annabel. x

Hi I came across this forum while searching about laryngeal papillomas, which i had as a child diagnosed at 2 years. I have always wondered how it was possible that i got them and wanted more information about them. Are you saying it is not possible that they were passed from my mother during childbirth??

Hi Kristy, 

I'm sorry to hear you had this condition. 

No, I wasn't saying that. The point that I was making is that the strains of HPV that cause laryngeal papillomas are different to the strains of HPV that cause cervical abnormalities and cervical cancer. Therefore, someone who has HPV 16 or 18 (which is what you have if you've had cervical abnormalities or cervical cancer) cannot 'cause' laryngeal papillomas in their child because that condition is caused by completely different strains of HPV. One strain of HPV cannot turn into another strain of HPV. 

As far as laryngeal papillomas is concerned, the current theory when it is found in children as young as you were when you were diagnosed, is that the mother had that particular strain of HPV (6 or 11) and transmitted it to the child during vaginal childbirth, but that theory is based on there being no other available explanation so far, it is not based on any actual evidence as yet and it has not been 'proven' in a scientific sense. Unfortunately some websites do make it sound like this is fact, when as I say, it is just the best theory to date in the absence of any other explanation. In some ways it seems to make sense, but it is also problematic because, for example, it is not the case that other strains of HPV (such as 18 and 18, which are the ones that can lead to cervical cancer) can be transmitted in this way, so then they have to ask what it is about 6 and 11 that would make them able to be transmitted in this way. So, it's uncertain, which I know doesn't help you, but unfortunately there is still so much we don't know about HPV. As I say though, what we do know is that the condition that you had is caused by completely different strains of HPV to the ones that can lead to cervical cancer, so therefore a woman who had cervical abnormalities/cancer cannot pass on the laryngeal papillomas strains during childbirth.

WIth very best wishes, 


i didnt think he would be able to get it but just wondered if anyone had more knowledge on the matter