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STDs & Birth Defects: What Every Expectant (or Hopeful) Mother Should Know



January is Birth Defects Prevention month — a good time for expecting parents to be reminded of the risks that sexually transmitted diseases pose to infants.

Read on to see what STDs pose risk of birth defects, and how you can prevent them.

STDs, Pregnancy, & Birth Defects

For mothers and their unborn children, monitoring sexual health during pregnancy is of the utmost importance. Sexually transmitted diseases pose many risks to both mother and infant, including birth defects.

Here are a few of the STDs that carry risk of birth defects:

Congenital Syphilis

Diagnosed before age 2, early congenital syphilis is an STD passed from mother to infant. It can lead to birth defects like liver or spleen enlargement, inflammation of nasal cartilage, bone changes, and even central nervous system problems. In some cases, vision problems and deafness can occur due to syphilis.

Syphilis can be trated with penicilin, preventing transmission to children in utero.

Genital Herpes

Expectant mothers infected with geneital herpes can transfer the STD to infants before or during birth. This can lead to a number of birth defects, including brain damage, cerebral palsy, deafness, and blindness.

Typically, birth defects occur when an infant is infected in birth. This is why it is so essential for pregnant women to be tested and treated for genital herpes before labor.


This common STD is more likely to be spread to the infant if it is acquired for the first time during pregnancy. It can cause intellectual disabilities, deafness, and blindness. Over 40,000 cases of CMV occur in infants annually.


Women who are expecting or hoping to begin a family can help ensure the health of their future children with STD testing.

To get started, find your local TEST SMARTLY LABS today!

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