Can I Pass My STD to My Child?

Can I Pass My STD to My Child?

If you are pregnant and have a sexually transmitted disease, there is a chance you could pass your STD to your child before or during the baby’s birth.

According to the National Library of Medicine:

  • Some STIs, such as syphilis, cross the placenta and infect the baby in the womb.
  • Other STIs, like gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B, and genital herpes, can pass from the mother to the baby as the baby passes through the birth canal.
  • HIV can cross the placenta during pregnancy and infect the baby during delivery.

How Will an STD Affect My Baby?

If your baby becomes infected with an STD, there is a higher risk for harmful effects, such as:

  • Low birth weight (less than 5 pounds)
  • Eye infection
  • Pneumonia
  • Infection in the baby’s blood
  • Brain damage
  • Lack of coordination in body movements
  • Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Acute hepatitis
  • Meningitis
  • Chronic liver disease, which can lead to scarring of the liver (cirrhosis)
  • Stillbirth

According to the CDC, side effects may be seen at birth or they may not appear until months or years later. 

What Can You Do?

  1. Get Tested for STDs early and regularly throughout pregnancy. You may not know you have an STD because some symptoms are silent. The sooner you discover an STD, the sooner you can begin receiving medical care, and the more likely you and your baby can have a better outcome.

For example, in 2016, there were 600 recorded cases of Syphilis, with 45 of those babies being born stillborn and many of them born with birth defects.

“When you have congenital syphilis occurring, it means there has been a breakdown in the whole medical system ― that these cases are not being diagnosed until a baby is born, when they should be diagnosed antenatally or even before then,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America and a senior associate at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It’s unfortunate that we’re seeing a resurgence of a disease that should basically be gone.”

  1. Get treatment. Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics for bacterial STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis during pregnancy. Your doctor can provide a shot of antibodies to an infant for Hepatitis B. If you have genital herpes, you can elect to have a C-section to avoid passing it to your baby through the birth canal. Talk to your doctor to find out what options are available to you. 

Where Can You Learn More?

At our center, we are here for you. We provide a judgment-free place to receive support throughout your pregnancy. If you are unsure if you have an STD or are aware that you do and would like to talk to someone, we offer free confidential options counseling. We can walk you through some ideas for the next steps. Your counselor can offer a referral to a clinic that can provide free STD testing and treatment. 

You do not have to face your pregnancy alone. Give us a call today.

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