U.S. News

Many Pregnant Women May Not Get STD Tests

May 18, 2012

Many pregnant women are not following recommendations that they undergo testing for certain STDs, according to a new study.

CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) say all pregnant women should be tested for chlamydia at their first prenatal visit. CDC and other groups also recommend gonorrhea screening for pregnant women at increased risk, including those younger than 25 and residents of areas of the country where the STD is common.

The new study showed that of almost 1.3 million US women who had blood tests done during pregnancy, only 59 percent were tested for chlamydia. Fifty-seven percent were screened for gonorrhea.

Because not all pregnant women are counseled to be tested for gonorrhea, it is difficult to determine whether the 57 percent rate is appropriate, according to Dr. Jay M. Lieberman, who worked on the study. Lieberman is infectious-diseases medical director at Quest Diagnostics Inc., which financed the research. But he noted the results found that some women for whom guidelines indicated screening did not get tested: Of pregnant women ages 16-24, only 69 percent were tested for gonorrhea. Left untreated, both STDs can endanger the health of a mother and her baby.

One limitation of the study is that it is based on tests conducted between 2005 and 2008, when screening guidelines were in transition. ACOG issued its guidelines in 2007.

Despite acknowledging that the situation is evolving, Lieberman said, "there's also no evidence that screening rates have improved." In 2009, a CDC study found that only a minority of all US women for whom chlamydia screening was indicated had undergone the test.

Lieberman said the current study's data do not indicate why women were not taking the recommended tests. While access to care is a challenge for some, all the participants were receiving prenatal care. Pregnant women should consult their doctors if they have not been tested for STDs or do not know if they have been tested.

[PNU editor's note: The study, "Chlamydial and Gonococcal Testing During Pregnancy in the United States," was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology (2012;doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2012.04.027).

Back to other news for May 2012

Adapted from:
05.17.2012; Amy Norton

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
What Did You Expect While You Were Expecting?
HIV/AIDS Resource Center for Women

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