Complications Of STDs In Pregnancy

March 4, 2009

Pregnant Women Are Not Immune To STDs

Sexually transmitted diseases affect pregnant women just as they do women who are not pregnant. The consequences of STDs in women are well known and their impact can be dramatically more devastating in pregnant women and worse, in their unborn babies. It is imperative that women be educated about the dangers and potential consequences of sexually transmitted diseases before becoming pregnant so they can take the proper precautions to protect themselves and their yet-to-be-born infant.

Genital herpes and bacterial vaginosis are common STDs found in pregnant women while HIV/AIDs and syphilis are less common. The Center for Disease Control in the US advises that 1,080,000 pregnant women are infected with bacterial vaginosis and 880,000 with Herpes simplex 2, the most common STDs. These diseases can lead to others, such as cervical and other types of cancers, chronic hepatitis, pelvic inflammatory disease and other diseases with associated complications. Many STDs are silent and a woman may not know she has one until she becomes pregnant.

Complications For A Pregnant Woman

Sexually transmitted diseases may cause pregnancy complications such as premature rupture of the membranes (PROM), early onset of labor and infection in the uterus following the birth of the baby. Miscarriage and stillbirth are not uncommon in such pregnancies. Unfortunately, the woman is not the only one to pay the price in these situations. There is a very real danger of the disease being transmitted to the baby at any point during the pregnancy, delivery and afterward.

The Woman Isn't The Only One Affected--Babies and STDs

Some STDs, such as syphilis, are able to cross the placenta and infect the baby en utero. This may result in the disruption of fetal development. Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Hepatitis B and genital Herpes all have the ability to infect the baby, especially during a vaginal birth. Women with HIV/AIDS, which cannot be cured, transmit the virus to their unborn infants through the placenta during the pregnancy or through exposure during birth. On top of these dangers, unique to HIV, it can be passed to the infant through breast-feeding.

Babies born to mothers with STDs can be affected in any number of ways. Low birth weight, infections in the eyes, lungs and blood, neurological damage, loss of sight or hearing, meningitis, liver disease and many, many other complications can threaten the lives of babies exposed to sexually transmitted diseases. Not all possible consequences of infections are apparent at birth. Often there are months or even years that pass before the effect of exposure to STDs is evident in children.

Quick Diagnosis of STDs in Pregnancy And STD Treatment The Key

Today, most health care providers screen women for sexually transmitted diseases when they attend their first prenatal visit. If a woman is in a sexual relationship with an infected person then subsequent screening and treatment should be part of the protocol. By advising the health care professional immediately if she knows either she or her partner are infected with an STD, they can both receive treatment and hopefully protect the baby as well.

 

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