Officials at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) observe National Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Awareness Month this April. They urge pregnant women to seek prenatal STD testing to prevent potential harm to the unborn child.
STD symptoms can go undetected. The infection can be transmitted to the baby and could result in several health problems when not detected early.
STD during pregnancy also raises the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth and stillbirth, as per Baby Center. The risks are higher for pregnant women who have a history of STD, multiple sex partners or injected drug use.
Among the tests recommended are HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B. If possible, these tests should be done regularly and more than once throughout the pregnancy to ascertain the health of both mother and child, as per WZZM ABC 13.
The MDHHS recommends pregnant women should get tested for STD infections on their first prenatal visit. Another round of tests should also be done at 26 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. Regardless if the results were negative in previous tests, a final screening must still be done on the 36th week, as per Click Detroit.
"If a physician is aware of the woman's infection before the baby is born, they can provide treatment to ensure the baby doesn't become infected," Dr. Eden Wells of the MDHHS said. The health official also urged women to discuss STD prevention and treatment with their doctors, especially if they're high risk.
If positive for STD, pregnant women can undergo treatment immediately with their doctor's guidance. Treatment might also be necessary for the baby once born.
About 20 million STD infection occur every year, as per data and stats from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Among those most infected are teenagers and young adults between the ages of 15 to 24. Lately, however, STD cases are increasing at an alarming rate not only in Michigan but also in states like Wyoming and Minnesota.