Sexually transmitted diseases need not affect your baby
Recently, a friend showed me a copy of an article she wrote of the effects of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) on children. Although I did not pay much attention as she read the article out to me, but I still remembered that some sexually transmitted diseases can deform a child, if not treated.
However, we have found it necessary to look at the diseases which although are most of the times contracted through sexual relations, but may affect an innocent child or the one who is not even born yet. The key thing however is that a mother gets tested for STDs while pregnant, if she thinks that she has been exposed to any of these serious infections.
It is not all the time that an individual may contract them through sexual intercourse only. To ensure the health of your unborn baby, mention that you want a test as you register for antenatal care. The crowded environment we live in most times does not assure of proper hygiene even when you think that you have been careful enough. These are diseases that have been known to pose immense danger to the mother, unborn baby and infant:
Syphilis is a bacterial infection, which, if present during pregnancy, can be transferred from mother to child if left untreated. An unborn baby with syphilis as observed through ultrasound was seen to have a large placenta and swelling, an enlarged liver or spleen. For a mother, the disease may cause miscarriage or lead to her having a stillborn baby. It can be transmitted to an unborn child through the placenta.
Infants with congenital syphilis may be prematurely, if not treated may develop serious heart problems of the heart, brain, skin, eyes, ears, bones and teeth.
Primary syphilis sores or chancre affects the fingers, mouth, lips, tongues, tonsils, anus and breasts. But syphilis can be treated during pregnancy. If chancre is on breasts or nipple, a mother should not breastfeed.
Gonorrhea can pass to baby at the time of delivery. If the disease is left untreated at pregnancy, the risk of miscarriage and premature birth is higher. A child who is infected by the mother may have infections of the eyes that can lead to blindness. Gonorrhea is treatable with antibiotics.
According to the American Social Health Association, about 25 to 30 percent of pregnant women have the herpes virus but only about five to 10 percent have had active blisters or sores around their vagina or buttocks. The good news is that babies rarely get the virus but it is serious for any who might catch it because neonatal herpes can damage the central nervous system, cause mental retardation and death.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
It is an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina and is said to be the most common vaginal infection of women of child- bearing age. It can cause premature labour and birth. A research found that women who had BV were about 20 percent more likely to have a miscarriage during the second stage of pregnancy.
Tests are not necessary unless there are clear symptoms like a strong fish like odour and/or a thin white or gray discharge.
If untreated it can cross into the womb and fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease. Your baby can be infected during delivery and develop pneumonia.
Infection during pregnancy can cause premature birth and preterm premature rupture of the membranes. Trichomoniasis infection makes it easy to get other STDs like HIV or Chlamydia if you are exposed them.
Ask to be tested if you experience symptoms like yellowish, greenish or grayish vaginal discharge, which goes hand in hand with a strong odour. You and your partner should be treated even when he shows no symptoms.
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