STDs/STIs pose special risks for pregnant women and their infants.
If a mother has an STD/STI, it is possible for the fetus or newborn to become infected. Some STDs/STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, and cytomegalovirus can be passed from mother to infant during delivery when the infant passes through an infected birth canal. A few STDs/STIs, including syphilis, HIV, and CMV, can infect a fetus before birth during the pregnancy.1 It is important for a pregnant woman to be tested for STDs/STIs, including HIV/AIDS and syphilis, as a part of her prenatal care.
STD/STI testing as a part of prenatal care can determine if an expectant mother or her sexual partner has an infection that can be cured with drug treatment. Early treatment decreases the chances that the infant will contract the disease.2 While not all STDs/STIs can be cured, the mother and her health care provider can take steps to protect her and her infant.
To reduce the chance of certain STDs/STIs spreading to the infant during delivery, the health care provider might recommend a cesarean delivery.
In most hospitals, infants’ eyes are routinely treated with an antibiotic ointment shortly after birth. This is to prevent blindness due to exposure to gonorrhea or chlamydia bacteria during delivery if the pregnant woman had an undetected infection.
STDs/STIs during pregnancy can also cause2:
STDs/STIs are of special concern during pregnancy and pose significant health risks to unborn infants:
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