I’m pregnant! What risks do Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) pose for my developing fetus?

>> Monday, June 28, 2010

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Sexually Transmitted Infections cause the same problems in pregnant women as they do in non-pregnant women. But in pregnancy they pose added risks to the unborn child. These infections can cause preterm birth, preterm labor and early breaking of the water which can cause infections of the uterus. Once the uterus becomes infected, the baby can become sick and this could cause the baby to suffer brain damage, pneumonia, low birth weight, blindness, deafness, meningitis and even death.

Of course many of these problems can be prevented, as most STI/STD's (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) can be effectively treated with antibiotics. When women get routine prenatal care, routine screening can be done any time there is a suspected problem. Many STI's like chlamydia,`gonorrhea, trichomoniasis and BV (Bacterial Vaginosis) remain in the vagina, and as long as the water is not broken, can be treated without ever impacting the baby. Unfortunately, some STI’s can cross the placenta and make their way via the mother's blood to the baby. HIV and Syphilis are examples of this but studies have shown that women who are treated for syphilis do not pass it to their babies. Likewise for women who are HIV positive but treated with antiviral therapy will have only a 2% chance of passing it to their babies.

Some STD’s if untreated, can be passed to the baby via the vaginal fluids during the delivery process. So the best, safest approach to preventing STI's in pregnancy and reducing the chance of harm to the baby is to go to your doctor for prenatal care. Make sure you are checked for all the necessary STI's. Ask questions there is no such thing as a dumb question. Ask to be rechecked if you are worried. Remember it's important.  It could impact your baby's life and your ability to have more children in the future.

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