The infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis is one of the most widespread sexually transmitted diseases. Chlamydia often goes unnoticed, but affects newborns. The baby may suffer from conjunctivitis in the first 2 weeks after birth or, in more serious cases, a lung infection at 3-4 weeks of age. Other risks of the disease are: spontaneous abortion, premature rupture of the membranes and delay in the intrauterine growth of the fetus.
It is manifested by an abundant and foul-smelling secretion. In general, the consequences for the fetus are not serious, but there have been cases where the disease led to a premature birth. Bacterial vaginitis is treated with antibiotics.
Also known as gonorrhoea, gonorrhea is transmitted from mother to child. A recent study has shown that more and more pregnant women have gonorrhea, which is worrying because of the problems it can cause to the newborn. Often, the baby’s eyes become infected at birth, with a high risk of blindness. Other, rarer risks are the same as chlamydiosis: spontaneous abortion, premature rupture of the membranes or delay in intrauterine development. Before pregnancy, untreated gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, a risk factor for ectopic pregnancy.
Contracted before or during pregnancy, hepatitis B can be transmitted to the child at birth. In severe cases, the baby can get sick with chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis. To avoid this risk, the child receives an injection of anti-HB immunoglobulin in the first 24 hours after birth.
When a woman contracts genital herpes in the last trimester of pregnancy, the baby is at risk of a generalized infection, encephalitis. Fortunately, this situation is very rare. However, if the disease is advanced or you have clear symptoms of herpes infection at the time of birth, the doctor will have to perform a caesarean section. If you discover herpes before becoming pregnant or at the beginning of pregnancy, you can avoid any complications by taking antiviral drugs.
During your first prenatal check-up or during the first 3 months of pregnancy, your doctor will usually order a blood test to check if you have syphilis. If the result is positive, you will need to undergo antibiotic treatment. Untreated, the disease often causes complications, a loss of pregnancy or even the birth of a stillborn child.
The treatment of condylomas or genital warts caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) is difficult in pregnant women: they can only be removed with liquid nitrogen. In the case of genital warts, caesarean section is indicated only in extreme cases, of obstruction, or if there is a risk of bleeding. The main danger for the fetus: by inhaling the virus, a recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, with breathing difficulties and coughing, may occur after the age of 1 year.
Infection with Trichomonas vaginalis, a microscopic protozoan parasite, is common and less serious than others, but it can still cause premature labor or even termination of pregnancy. Therefore, a test to identify the parasites is recommended, especially if a greenish-yellow discharge or weight loss occurs.
Specialist advice: Dr. Silviu Istoc, obstetrician-gynecology specialist
Although the doctor can observe pathological changes following the Pap test or during a pelvic exam, many sexually transmitted diseases require special tests to diagnose them correctly. For example, gonorrhea and chlamydia may not present specific symptoms, and the detection of herpes, genital virus, syphilis or hepatitis requires blood tests. It is necessary to ask the doctor how you can fully investigate the state of gynecological health, especially if you have exposed yourself to the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.