Health: Pregnant women urged to get prenatal STD tests

LANSING, MICH. - National Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Awareness Month is during the month of April, so the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) wants to remind pregnant women of the importance of getting tested during pregnancy.

Many STD infections that occur in a pregnant woman can also affect a newborn baby. However, MDHHS says that preventing the spread between mother and child can be done with proper testing during pregnancy.

Pregnant women should be tested for HIV, hepatitis B and syphilis multiple times during pregnancy for better health outcomes for themselves and their baby, MDHHS reports. 

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“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,” says Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive for MDHHS.

Women should be tested at their first prenatal visit and it is recommended to be tested again at 26-28 weeks. MDHHS says that pregnant women with an STD, who use injecting drugs or have more than one sex partner should be tested for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B at 36 weeks or at delivery -- even if previous tests were negative.

Testing is important because many times, people do not show signs or symptoms of having an STD. Pregnant women can pass HIV, syphilis or hepatitis B to their newborn, increasing the baby's the risk of becoming infected or developing severe health problems because of an infection.

To prevent infection or health problems, MDHHS says pregnant women with STDs should seek early treatment. Babies may also need to be treated at birth as well.

MDHHS says that in the past five years, Michigan has had three preventable cases of perinatal Hepatitis B, three cases of congenital syphilis and three babies born with HIV infection

MDHHS encourages all pregnant women to ask questions and discuss their possible risks and concerns with their doctor during prenatal visits. 

For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/hepatitisB and www.michigan.gov/hivstd.

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April Stevens is a multi-platform producer at WZZM 13. Have a news tip? Email news@wzzm13.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.

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