Research shows that infection with chlamydia and gonorrhoea preconception or antenatally increases the risk of pregnancy complications.

Researchers at The University of New South Wales in Sydney analysed the birth records from more than 350,000 women between 1999 and 2008 and linked the data to state records on notifiable conditions.

The 1% of women with prior chlamydia notifications were 17% more likely to have a spontaneous preterm birth, and 42% more likely to have a stillbirth than those without infection.

Only  0.06% of women had a prior gonorrhoea notification but these women were more than twice as likely to have a spontaneous preterm birth or stillborn baby.

Neither infection was linked to an increased risk of a small for gestational age baby. There was no evidence that the timing of chlamydia infection made any difference to outcomes.

The authors cautioned that the infections may be a marker for women at high risk of complications, not a cause of the outcomes.

“While there is some evidence to suggest that chronic inflammation, such as would arise with chlamydia and gonorrhoea, can trigger an unplanned premature birth, trials of antibiotics given to treat chlamydia during pregnancy, have not reduced the risk.” they said.

A survey by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists found that only one of five specialists routinely screened pregnant women under 25 for chlamydia, as recommended.

Guidelines also recommend screening all sexually active young people, although research has suggested that many young adults remain undiagnosed in Australia

At GCA we routinely screen our patients for chlamydia and gonorrhea.