Posts Tagged ‘premature rupture of membrane’

What is chlamydia?

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Chlamydia is a bacterium that causes a sexually transmitted infection (STI). A chlamydial infection contracted before or during pregnancy can be the cause of reproductive problems, so it’s important to clear it up a.s.a.p. About 2.8 million new cases of this infection occur every year in the U. S. in both sexes, making this one of the most common STIs. It occurs most frequently in people under age 25.

Chlamydia usually has no symptoms, although some infected women experience vaginal discharge and burning on urination. Untreated, chlamydia can spread to the upper genital tract (uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries), resulting in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), often with a superinfection with other bacteria – so not nice!  And PID can damage a woman’s fallopian tubes and lead to ectopic pregnancy or infertility.

About 10 percent of pregnant women in the United States are infected with chlamydia. Untreated, they face an increased risk of premature rupture of the membranes (PROM) (bag of waters) and preterm delivery. Babies of untreated women often become infected during vaginal delivery, and infected babies can develop eye infections and pneumonia, which require treatment with antibiotics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all pregnant women be screened for chlamydia infection at the first prenatal visit. Testing is easy and is done on a urine sample or vaginal fluid obtained with a swab. The good news is that chlamydial infection can be cured with antibiotics that prevent complications for mom and baby. It’s important to note that the partner of an infected woman also should be treated, because the infection can be passed back and forth between sexually active couples.

What is PROM?

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Premature rupture of membranes (PROM) is the breaking open of the bag of waters surrounding the baby, the amniotic sac, before labor begins. If PROM occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy, it is called preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM).  With few exceptions, once the membrane ruptures a woman usually delivers her baby within one week.

In a full-term pregnancy, membranes rupture because their strength has weakened over time and the force of contractions becomes too difficult to withstand.  Before term, however, membranes can rupture for some reasons we understand and for other reasons we still haven’t grasped.  Some contributing factors to PPROM are previous preterm birth, sexually transmitted infections, vaginal bleeding, and smoking cigarettes.   That’s right, smoking cigarettes has been linked to PPROM.  So here is another good reason to quit. Women in a lower socioeconomic setting may be at higher risk for PPROM if they receive late or no prenatal care.

Preterm PROM is not only dangerous for the baby who will be born premature, but it can also pose a serious threat to the mom because it increases her risk of infection.  Chorioamnionitis is a uterine infection that can cause a high fever, uterine pain and rapid pulse and it is important to receive treatment to avoid this.

The most common signs of PROM are a gush of water from the vagina or steady leaking, a constant wetness in your underwear no matter how many times you change it.  If you experience any symptoms, check in with your doc or midwife right away.  They can analyze the fluid, check your cervix, even do an ultrasound to see if something is going on.

To learn more about preterm birth, read our fact sheet.