A sexually transmitted infection (STI)—sometimes referred to as a sexually transmitted disease (STD)—is a bacterial or viral illness that you can get from having genital, oral, or anal sex with an infected partner. STIs can have serious health consequences for you and your baby.
Pregnant women are equally prone to be infected with sexually transmitted diseases as women who are not pregnant. Pregnancy does not act as a barrier that protects the women and her fetus from STDs. But, the consequence of the infection will be more fatal if the affected woman happens to be pregnant. A thorough awareness regarding the transmission of the disease and its outcome is the most effective tool with which STDs can be prevented.
Sexually transmitted diseases can lead to cervical and other cancers, chronic hepatitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and such other severe complications. The fact that most of the symptoms of STDs are silent makes the matters all the more worse.
Sexually transmitted diseases get transmitted from the mother to her fetus before, during or after the vaginal birth. Some diseases such as syphilis has the potential to cross over the placenta and make the baby infected while it is still within its mother’s womb.
Certain other sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea Chlamydia, hepatitis B, and genital herpes get transmitted to the child during the process of delivery. The baby gets infected as its makes its way out through the birth canal.
HIV infection can occur either during the pregnancy period or at the time of birth. HIV can also make a baby fall sick if he gets breast fed by the infected mother.
The consequence of sexually transmitted infections is manifold. A pregnant woman with an STD is prone to have an early labor. The premature rupture of the membranes surrounding the baby in the uterus is also likely. Some infected women suffer from uterine infection soon after the delivery.
Babies born to mothers infected with sexually transmitted diseases are likely to suffer from low birth weight, conjunctivitis, pneumonia, neonatal sepsis, neurological damage, blindness, deafness, acute hepatitis, meningitis, liver disorders etc. However, effective prenatal care and strict adherence to medication will prove to be beneficial.
Less than 0.1 percent of babies born in the United States contract herpes, according to the ASHA, which is reassuring. But those who do get the virus suffer severe consequences: neonatal herpes can damage the central nervous system, cause mental retardation, and even cause death.