Chlamydia in Pregnancy
Many healthcare providers recommend that all pregnant women get tested for chlamydia, since a chlamydial infection poses risks to both the mother and the baby. For example, chlamydia is linked to cases of ectopic pregnancy, a potentially fatal condition for the mother that results in miscarriage.
Each year, up to 1 million women in the United States develop PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), a serious infection of the reproductive organs. As many as half of all cases of PID may be due to chlamydial infection, and many of these women don't have symptoms. PID can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes, which can block the tubes and prevent fertilization from taking place. Researchers estimate that 100,000 women each year become infertile because of PID.
In other cases, scarring may interfere with the passage of the fertilized egg to the uterus during pregnancy. When this happens, the egg may attach itself to the fallopian tube. This is called an ectopic pregnancy or tubal pregnancy. This very serious condition results in a miscarriage and can cause the death of the mother.
A baby who is exposed to C. trachomatis in the birth canal during delivery may develop an eye infection or pneumonia. Symptoms of conjunctivitis, which include discharge and swollen eyelids, usually develop within the first 10 days of life.
Symptoms of pneumonia, including a cough that gets steadily worse and congestion, most often develop within three to six weeks after birth. Healthcare providers can treat both conditions successfully with antibiotics.
Because of these risks to the newborn, many healthcare providers recommend that all pregnant women get tested for chlamydia as part of their prenatal care.