The Effects of Untreated STDs on Labor and Delivery

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are always serious conditions, but they require particular attention when infecting a pregnant mother. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), these conditions can negatively affect the mother, as well as the infant. Injuries can range from minor infections to death. Prenatal doctors are obligated to test and treat their patients for STDs. The recommended frequency of this testing varies, depending on the specific disease and the patient’s risk factors.


Syphilis is a serious condition that can pass on to the infant during pregnancy. Its effects on the developing baby can be life threatening, according to the CDC. The disease is reportedly linked to stillbirths and premature births. In babies who survive the birth, complications can include problems with the eyes, brain and heart. Organs and bones are also negatively impacted. All first prenatal visits should include syphilis screenings. For high risk patients, testing should occur in the third trimester as well.


Hepatitis is an infection of the liver. Pregnant mothers may receive a diagnosis of type B (HBV) or type C (HCV). For type B infections, the virus can pass onto the newborn when the infection occurs close to the time of delivery. For type C Hepatitis, the risk of newborn infection is much higher. While HBV infected babies are at a high risk for developing chronic liver diseases, HCV infected babies are generally cleared of the infection over time. According to the CDC, mothers should get screened for the disease prenatally. Screening should continue regularly for mothers who exhibit high risk behaviors.


According to the CDC, gonorrhea that is left untreated can lead to a number of birth complications, including premature birth, miscarriages and low birth weights. Rupture of the pregnancy membrane is also a possibility, causing the fluid around the baby to become infected. Passing through the birth canal can also spread the disease to the baby, resulting in infections to the eyes. Doctors should reportedly test the patient for the disease at the start of the pregnancy, if it is determined that she is at risk. If risk factors continue, testing is also necessary during the third trimester of pregnancy.


Herpes Simplex Virus can take on two distinct forms. However, most newborn infections of this disease are caused by Herpes Simplex II. While the CDC reports that infection can occur during the pregnancy, most newborns contract the condition during delivery, as the baby passes through the birth canal. The infection can result in severe complications, so C-sections are common if the mother is experiencing lesions during the delivery. Pregnant mothers should be tested any time symptoms are experienced.

Diagnosis and treatment of STDs is vitally important to the well-being and health of both the mother and the newborn. When physicians fail to take reasonable action, they may face liability for any injuries that ensue.

If you or your child was injured during treatment for a common due to a lack of proper STD treatment, contact the attorneys of Levin & Perconti.

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