Prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the sexually active population are the main steps to prevent perinatal infection. However, the spread of STIs continues at an astronomical pace despite various attempts at controlling the epidemic. An important reason for this lack of STI control is that a large percentage of infected people go untreated because they have asymptomatic or unrecognized infections. The microbial differential diagnosis of STIs implicated in adverse pregnancy outcome is broad and includes viral, bacterial and protozoal infections. Infertility, ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, chorioamnionitis, premature rupture of membranes, preterm birth and puerperal sepsis are some of complications seen in women as a result of infection with sexually transmitted pathogens. In addition, STIs may facilitate the acquisition and transmission of HIV. In the fetus or neonate, complications include abnormalities of the major organ systems. Infections in the form of pneumonia or conjunctivitis may also occur. Due to the lack of simple, inexpensive and sensitive point-of-care tests, screening for STIs in pregnancy is not performed routinely.
Copyright 2000 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.