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Is Your Baby at Risk if you had Chlamydia During Birth?

Kristie Rivers, MD, FAAP, Board Certified Pediatrician
January 3, 2019 . 2 min read

Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease—and in many cases, women who have chlamydia don’t suffer from any symptoms. If symptoms are present, they can include vaginal discharge, bleeding after sex, or itching and burning during urination. Even undiagnosed chlamydia with no symptoms can cause problems during pregnancy, including miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight, and premature rupture of the sac.

As with other sexually transmitted diseases, there is a chance of transmitting the infection to your child during birth. The chances of transmission depend partly on when you were diagnosed and if the chlamydia was treated or not.

If you have been diagnosed with chlamydia during your pregnancy and were adequately treated, your baby has a low chance of infection. By contrast, if you were diagnosed with chlamydia at delivery, your baby may be at risk. Up to 50 percent of newborns born vaginally to chlamydia-positive mothers will develop an infection.

Typically, infants infected with chlamydia during birth will develop eye or lung infections. Infants may also develop eye redness and discharge, leading to conjunctivitis. Pneumonia can develop in the first few weeks after birth, or the infant may not show signs for up to a few months.

Typical signs of chlamydia pneumonia in infants include rapid breathing and cough. Both chlamydia eye infections and pneumonia can be treated with an oral antibiotic.

To reduce the risk of transmission, all pregnant women are tested for chlamydia early in the pregnancy, usually at their first prenatal visit. Repeat testing may be performed for women considered at higher risk.

Sources:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • STDs & Pregnancy.

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