MADISON, N.J., May 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Many women are not screened for chlamydia and gonorrhea infection during their pregnancy, and follow-up testing is not always performed as medically recommended for those who test positive for chlamydia, according to a study published online in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AJOG). The findings, based on an analysis of laboratory tests of 1.3 million pregnant women, highlight gaps between medical guidelines and clinical practice in screening for two sexually transmitted infections that pose health risks for pregnant women and their newborn babies.
Conducted by scientists at Quest Diagnostics (NYSE: DGX) and Rutgers University, the study is believed to be the largest nationally representative retrospective study of chlamydia and gonorrhea testing. It examined de-identified results of 1,293,423 pregnant women between 16 to 40 years of age in the United States who were tested by the company between 2005 and 2008.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the two most commonly reported sexually transmitted infections in the United States and infect up to 100,000 and 13,200 pregnant women, respectively, each year. Left untreated, the infections can raise health risks for pregnant women, such as early onset of labor, and for newborns, such as potentially serious eye infections and pneumonia. Once identified, the infections are easily treated with antibiotics.Gaps in Screening
During the study period, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended chlamydia screening for all pregnant women and gonorrhea screening for all high-risk pregnant women, which includes women 24 years of age or younger. The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) adopted similar guidelines in 2007. Despite these national recommendations, the study found that only 59% and 57% of pregnant women were tested at least once for chlamydia and gonorrhea, respectively. Among women in the high-risk 16 to 24 year age group, only 69% were tested for gonorrhea. Repeat Chlamydia Screening
According to CDC guidelines, women who test positive for chlamydia should be re-tested three weeks after therapy to monitor treatment effectiveness. Because of their heightened risk, the CDC recommends that women 25 years of age and younger be re-tested for chlamydia during the third trimester, even if an initial screen was negative.
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