Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), sometimes called sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or venereal diseases (VDs), are illnesses passed through sexual intercourse. According to Marla Ahlgrimm, many STDs can transfer from mother to child in utero and through the breastfeeding process. Syphilis, a common STD, is passed to a fetus while still in the womb. Others, such as hepatitis B, genital herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea, are transmitted as the baby exits the birth canal. HIV, which is commonly associated with AIDS, may cross the placenta and infect the baby during delivery.
Having a sexually transmitted disease while pregnant may cause preterm labor or uterine infection. Marla Ahlgrimm explains that STDs can cause low birth weight, pneumonia, eye infection, blood infection in the baby, poorly developed motor skills, brain damage, deafness, blindness, hepatitis, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, and meningitis. Severe, untreated sexually transmitted infections can lead to stillbirth.