October marks two special designations for expectant mothers: Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month and the Campaign for Healthier Babies Month.
To promote education about these important topics, ARCpoint Labs is sharing how having STDs during pregnancy can affect a child’s health.
Pregnancy & STDs: What are the Risks & Treatments?
In the past, we’ve written in depth about how certain STDs pose risks to both the mother and their unborn child. There are several main complications related to having an STD during pregnancy, including:
- Low birth weight: chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis
- Pre-term labor: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomoniasis
- Lung infections: chlamydia,
- Eye infections: chlamydia, gonorrhea
- Miscarriage: gonorrhea, syphilis
- Stillbirth: syphilis
- Infection of amniotic fluid: gonorrhea
- Chronic liver disease: hepatitis B
- Increased risk of liver cancer: hepatitis B
STD Treatments for Pregnant Women
Fortunately, there are treatments or protocols that women can pursue to help protect themselves and their unborn child from STD risks. These vary from STD to STD, since each virus or infection has a different affect on the system.
All pregnant women, not just those at risk for HIV, should get HIV testing. If you receive an HIV-positive diagnosis early enough into the pregnancy, your doctor will put you on the medications you need to prevent the spread to your unborn child.
A bacterial infection spread through sexual contact, chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics that are safe for pregnant women. The only chlamydia medication that should not be taken during pregnancy is doxycycline, simply because it can cause tooth discoloration in infants. After the child is born, they’ll be treated with ointment to prevent conjunctivitis (which could escalate to blindness when left untreated).
While there isn’t a cure for genital herpes, your doctor can help you create a management plan to prevent effects of the disease. If the herpes virus is active or you have a genital wart near your delivery date, your doctor will probably opt for a cesarean section to reduce your baby’s risk of catching herpes during birth. Studies have shown that common herpes medications are safe for use during pregnancy; in addition to these, your doctor could prescribe daily herpes treatments once you reach 36 weeks.
Small genital warts caused by HPV don’t necessitate treatment, but larger lesions should be treated to prevent birth canal blockage, tearing, or hemorrhage. Treatment may include chemical burning or surgical removal. HPV medications like podophyllin or podofilox should be avoided during pregnancy because they can cause birth defects.
Hepatitis B is usually transmitted during sexual contact, but is also spread through contact with all types of bodily fluids, so it can spread to a baby before or after childbirth. If a newborn catches the virus, they’ll be treated with gamma globulin injections and a vaccine in the 12 hours after the birth, then with a round of follow-up vaccines in the first six months of life. Because hepatitis B is spread through fluids, hep B-positive mothers should not breastfeed.
Pregnant women with syphilis are treated with penicillin to prevent transmission to their unborn child. In addition to this course of medication, expectant mothers should prevent re-infection by avoiding sexual contact with infected partners.
Quick, Safe STD Testing at ARCpoint Labs
All pregnant women know that the OBGYN’s office can be a hassle — from scheduling an appointment with your busy doctor to spending hours in the waiting room, it can be exhausting. ARCpoint Labs facilities nationwide offer quick, accurate STD testing services to expectant mothers. Walk in with no appointment needed and we can provide STD testing so that your doctor can determine an appropriate treatment plan that protects you and your unborn child.
To get started, find your local ARCpoint Labs today!