Data published in the American Journal of Obstetrics
& Gynecology indicate that a significant number of pregnant women are
not being tested for common sexually transmitted diseases.
Only 37% of women were tested for Chlamydia
trachomatis during their first prenatal visit as recommended by the
CDC and the American College of Gynecology.
Left untreated, these infections have been
associated with a number of adverse maternal outcomes, such as early onset of
labor, premature rupture of membranes and uterine infection after
delivery, researchers from Quest Diagnostics wrote in the study.
These infections can also be transmitted from mother to newborn during
delivery, resulting in potentially serious consequences for the infant.
The cohort included 1,293,423 pregnant women aged 16 to
40 years who received testing at Quest Diagnostics from June 2005 to May 2008.
Women who received testing during their third trimester of pregnancy were
included in the study. Data on testing rates for C. trachomatis and
Neisseria gonorrhea were calculated.
During pregnancy, 59% of women were tested for C.
trachomatis and 57% were tested for N. gonorrhea. Testing rates
decreased as maternal age increased. Black women had the highest testing rates,
whereas white women had the lowest testing rates.
Of the women who were tested for C. trachomatis,
3.5% tested positive. Of those who tested for N. gonorrhea, 0.6% were
positive. The prevalence of both infections was highest among the youngest
study participants. Of the women who initially tested positive for C.
trachomatis, 78% were retested, and of those who initially tested positive
for N. gonorrhea, 76% were retested.
This large national study demonstrates the value
of screening for these infections, identifies the importance of follow-up
testing in certain populations and highlights significant gaps between current
recommendations and the practices during our study period, the
researchers wrote. Improved compliance with national guidelines will
improve the health of women and their offspring.
- Blatt AJ. Am J Obstet Gynecol.
- The researchers are employed by Quest Diagnostics and/or have
equity interest in the company.