-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Sept. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Women with chlamydia or
gonorrhea infections before or during pregnancy are at increased
risk for pregnancy complications such as stillbirth and premature
birth, a new study suggests.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 350,000 Australian
women who had their first child between 1999 and 2008. Of those
women, 1 percent had at least one chlamydia infection before they
gave birth, and 81 percent of those women were diagnosed before
they became pregnant.
The study also found that 0.6 percent of the women had a
gonorrhea infection before they gave birth, and nearly 85 percent
of those women were diagnosed before they became pregnant. Half of
the women diagnosed with gonorrhea had also previously been
infected with chlamydia, found researchers Dr. Bette Liu, at the
University of New South Wales, and colleagues.
Among all the women in the study, 4 percent had an unplanned
premature birth, 12 percent had babies who were small for their
gestational age, and 0.6 percent had stillborn babies.
After taking into account factors known to increase the risk of
birth complications -- including age, poverty, smoking and health
conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure -- the
researchers found that a prior infection with either chlamydia or
gonorrhea also increased the risk.
Women who'd had chlamydia were 17 percent more likely to have an
unplanned premature birth and 40 percent more likely to have a
stillborn baby. There was no increased risk of having a baby that
was small for its gestational age.
For women who'd had chlamydia, the risk of an unplanned
premature birth did not differ between those diagnosed with an
infection more than a year before conception, within a year of
conception, or during the pregnancy.
Women who had had gonorrhea were more than twice as likely to
have an unplanned premature birth, but they were not at increased
risk of having a baby that was small for its gestational age,
according to the study published online Sept. 4 in the journal
Sexually Transmitted Infections.
Not enough data existed to determine the impact that gonorrhea
infection had on the risk of stillbirth.
These findings don't prove that chlamydia and gonorrhea
infections actually cause pregnancy complications, but do suggest
that such infections may be important in predicting pregnancy
complications, the study authors concluded.
The U.S. Office on Women's Health has more about
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