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Sexually transmitted infections in pregnancy: a narrative review of the global research gaps, challenges, and opportunities

Grant, Juliana S, Chico, R Matthew, Lee, Anne CC, Low, Nicola, Medina-Marino, Andrew, Molina, Rose L, Morroni, Chelsea ORCID:, Ramogola-Masire, Doreen, Stafylis, Chrysovalantis, Tang, Weiming, Vallely, Andrew J, Wynn, Adriane, Yeganeh, Nava and Klausner, Jeffre D (2020) 'Sexually transmitted infections in pregnancy: a narrative review of the global research gaps, challenges, and opportunities'. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Vol 47, Issue 12, pp. 779-789.

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Sexually transmitted infections (STI), such as chlamydial, gonorrheal, and trichomonal infection, are prevalent in pregnant women in many countries and are widely reported to be associated with increased risk of poor maternal and neonatal outcomes. Syndromic STI management is frequently used in pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries, yet its low specificity and sensitivity lead to both over- and undertreatment. Etiologic screening for chlamydial, gonorrheal, and/or trichomonal infection in all pregnant women combined with targeted treatment might be an effective intervention. However, the evidence base is insufficient to support development of global recommendations. We aimed to describe key considerations and knowledge gaps regarding chlamydial, gonorrheal, and trichomonal screening during pregnancy to inform future research needed for developing guidelines for low- and middle-income countries.

We conducted a narrative review based on PubMed and clinical trials registry searches through January 20, 2020, guidelines review, and expert opinion. We summarized our findings using the frameworks adopted by the World Health Organization for guideline development.

Adverse maternal-child health outcomes of potential interest are wide-ranging and variably defined. No completed randomized controlled trials on etiologic screening and targeted treatment were identified. Evidence from observational studies was limited and trials of presumptive STI treatment have shown mixed results. Subgroups that might benefit from specific recommendations were identified. Evidence on harms was limited. Cost-effectiveness was influenced by STI prevalence and availability of testing infrastructure and high-accuracy/low-cost tests. Preliminary data suggested high patient acceptability.

Preliminary data on harms, acceptability, and feasibility and the availability of emerging test technologies suggest that etiologic STI screening deserves further evaluation as a potential tool to improve maternal and neonatal health outcomes worldwide.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WA Public Health > WA 105 Epidemiology
WA Public Health > Health Problems of Special Population Groups > WA 310 Maternal welfare
WA Public Health > Statistics. Surveys > WA 900 Public health statistics
WC Communicable Diseases > Sexually Transmitted Diseases > WC 140 Sexually transmitted diseases
WC Communicable Diseases > Sexually Transmitted Diseases > WC 142 Public health control measures
WQ Obstetrics > Pregnancy Complications > WQ 256 Infectious diseases
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > International Public Health Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Tina Bowers
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2020 11:52
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2021 01:02


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