STDs Expert Forum
Gonorrhea risk to baby during pregnancy
About This Forum:

The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

Font Size:
A
A
A
Background:
Blank
Blank
Blank
This expert forum is not accepting new questions. Please post your question in one of our medical support communities.
Blank Blank

Gonorrhea risk to baby during pregnancy

Hello,

I am pregnant with my second baby and just wanted to double check the risks to my baby of gonorrhea/ chlamydia.

The CDC fact sheet on gonorrhea says: “If a pregnant woman has gonorrhea, she may give the infection to her baby as the baby passes through the birth canal during delivery. This can cause blindness, joint infection, or a life-threatening blood infection in the baby”.

How common is the blindness or life-threatening blood infection?
Are these a direct result from gonorrhea, or are they secondary infections that could happen to a baby regardless of gonorrhea/ chlamydia?
Would there be clear signs (& would a doctor know) before a baby would go blind or get this blood infection?
239123_tn?1267651214
Welcome to the forum.  Thanks for your question.

You're worried about the wrong things.  The way to prevent serious complications for the baby due to chlamydia or gonorrhea is to make sure the mother isn't infected; or, if she is, that she is treated before the baby is delivered.

If you are concerned about having gonorrhea or chlamydia -- for example, if you have reason to believe the baby's father is infected, or if you have had sex with someone else who might be at risk -- then discuss it with your obstetrician and make sure you are tested.  (Most likely he or she will test you anyway -- gonorrhea and chlamydia testing are routine in all pregnant women.  But a conversation will make sure it happens.)  If you have negative tests, then there is no worry; or if you are infected, treatment will cure you and prevent any problem in the baby.

In reply to your specific questions:  1) These are rare problems for newborn babies in the US and other industrialized countries.  2) Often there are no signs that a doctor would notice.  That's why you need to have a lab test.

I hope this information is helpful.  Best wishes--  HHH, MD
5 Comments
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Hello,

I don't have reason to believe that gonorrhea or chlamydia will be in my pregnancy, however I was reading many things that can affect a baby when pregnant & thought I would seek clarification.

Could you please explain HOW gonorrhea could cause blindness or a blood infection in a baby?
Surely this couldn't happen without warning?
(I've read gonorrhea and chlamydia don't always show symptoms, so I want to be sure).

I had never heard before today that gonorrhea could be life-threatening, (in an adult OR baby).
Have you ever heard of this happening?
Blank
239123_tn?1267651214
The only way gonorrhea infects the baby at all is by passing through an infected birth canal.  In the pre-antibiotic era, exposure of the baby's eyes to the mother's infection resulted in infection that could not be treated (because there no were antibiotics) and over the next few weeks could result in scarring of the cornea, resulting in blindness.

Some of those infections starting in the eye, or an infection starting in the mouth or throat (acquired the same way) can spread into the bloodstream, resuliting in arthritis.  Even this complication is easily treated with antibiotics, so no long term harm results.

Because of standard prevention practices, such infections are extremely rare in industrialized countries, and antibiotic treatment is highly effective. In the US, probably no baby has been blinded by gonorrhea or disabled by gonococcal arthritis for over 50 years.

In other words, you shouldn't be at all worried.  You need to be careful what you read on the web -- the information can be alarming.  When it is, I suggest you keep searching -- almost always you can find reassuring information that should reduce your fears about the earlier bad news.  I would also suggest not reading about pregnancy problems for which you obviously are not at risk.

That will end this thread.  Best wishes for you, your baby, and your growing family.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Thank you Doctor-
Yes I had read about the passing through the birth canal.
It does seem to be reassuring to know the information.

Can I quickly check with you that I personally wouldn't be at any risk of getting eye gonorrhea or eye chlamydia if fluid soaked underwear was removed then thrown directly into my eye?
Blank
239123_tn?1267651214
No risk.  You cannot get gonorrhea or chlamydia without having sex with a partner who is infected.

That's definitely all for this thread.  Do your best to put all this out of your mind and move on.
Blank
Continue discussion Blank
This Forum's Experts
239123_tn?1267651214
H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
Seattle, WA
300980_tn?1194933000
Edward W Hook, MDBlank
University of Alabama at Birmingham
,
MedHelp Health Answers
Blank
Weight Tracker
Weight Tracker
Start Tracking Now
RSS Expert Activity
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
Emotional Eating Control: How to St...
7 hrs ago by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
233488_tn?1310696703
Blank
New Cannabis Article from NORTH Mag...
Jul 20 by John C Hagan III, MD, FACS, FAAOBlank
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
3 Reasons Why You are Still Binge E...
Jul 14 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank