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Understanding STDs in Pregnancy -- Basic Information

Genital Warts

Genital warts or "condyloma" are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus can lie latent, causing no symptoms, for months or years after infection. When an outbreak occurs, warts appear on or near the genitals or anus, or within the vagina. Pregnant women with HPV can have rapid growth of warts. HPV transmission from mother to baby can occur, but is rare. Babies who contract the virus can develop warts on their larynx (voice box) as infants or children — usually by age 5. But HPV is not considered a reason to do a cesarean section unless the warts are large enough to interfere with a vaginal delivery.


Gonorrhea is an STD caused by gonococcus or Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Most people who are infected with gonorrhea have no symptoms and are not aware that they are infected. Sometimes, women may experience vaginal discharge and itching, and both men and women may experience burning during urination. Some women aren't tested and treated until their sexual partner exhibits symptoms of painful urination and a thick, milky discharge from his penis. Untreated, gonorrhea can cause eye problems for a newborn, often leading to blindness. People infected with chlamydia often are also infected with gonorrhea. A pregnant woman with gonorrhea can transmit the infection to her baby during delivery. This can lead to serious infection in the newborn.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B infection is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), which spreads through contact with an infected person's blood and other bodily fluids. When you first contract HBV, you may experience fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle and joint pain, headache, dark urine, gray stools, a chest cold, and jaundice, but many infected persons don't know they are infected. When you first become infected with HBV, your body will fight the infection and you usually develop antibodies that make you immune. Some people infected with hepatitis B continue to carry the virus, rather than develop immunity, after their initial infection. These "chronic carriers" usually have no symptoms but still can infect others through sexual intercourse or by contact with their blood and other bodily fluids. A chronic carrier may infect her baby during pregnancy or childbirth. If your baby is infected, he or she may suffer serious liver problems. Chronic carriers themselves may develop liver disease and liver cancer.

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