Sexually transmitted diseases as the name suggests, are transmitted through sexual contact. In sub-Saharan Africa, Statistics show that sexually transmitted diseases are among the main reasons why most people seek medical care.
However, this statistics largely refer to men, and reveals that women in these regions are slow to seek medical attention in regard to sexual diseases.
This puts these children and many in other African regions at risk because there is an incredible number of sexually transmitted infections that can be transmitted through a mother during pregnancy or, during childbirth.
Among these infections include HIV, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, Chlamydia, hepatitis B, and HPV.
Reports from centers for disease and control, CDC reveal risk factors that are predominant in Africa and predispose infants to maternal sexually transmitted infections; this includes the relationship status of the mother and her sex partner, including his fidelity to her as a sex partner and the consistency of the relationship.
Poverty, homelessness and her inability to access timely STD screening and treatment services has also been reported to increase her risk of STI infections
Prevalence of Sexually Transmitted Diseases among Babies in Africa
Evidence shows that of the listed STI’s that are transmitted to babies in Africa, HIV is given quite an emphasis due to the numerous debilitating effects that come with the disease, not to mention the stigma, high probability of death, and suffering to both mother and child. These efforts have seen a tremendous decline in mother to child transmission from 30% to 1%.
However, although syphilis is known to have equally severe consequences on pregnancies and newborns in these regions, it has not received an equal measure of mobilization towards eradication. The prevalence of syphilis infection among pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to be 2.7%, which represents nearly 1 million pregnancies to be at risk annually.
More than 50% of children born with congenital syphilis in Africa are initially asymptomatic, making a prenatal diagnosis of maternal infection vital to improving mother-child pregnancy outcomes.
Gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis, or Trichomonas vaginalis in pregnant women can be as high as 25% of sexual infections among newborns in Africa.
Globally neonatal herpes maternal transmissions although rare, accounts are estimated to be 14,000 annually, with majority of this numbers originating from Africa.
Effect of the STI Diseases on Babies in Africa
Mother to child transmissions during pregnancy and childbirth in Africa can result in neonatal deaths, stillbirth, sepsis, conjunctivitis, congenital deformities, low birth weight, and premature newborns.
Extreme effects of STIs may include blindness, physical disability, mental retardation, and even death.
Viral STI’s are not treatable; however, all the bacterial infection causing STIs are curable, including syphilis. However, adverse effects of syphilis in Africa in both the mother and child are preventable.
In Tanzania, this was done with effective screening and then treating with a single intramuscular dose of benzathine penicillin.
Conclusion – STI’s Among Babies In Africa
Sexually transmitted diseases among babies remains a serious threat, however, treatment is available for most of the curable infections when presented timely in hospitals.
HIV screening for pregnant women in Africa to prevent maternal infection is effective and is duly carried out among women attending antenatal care.
Although it has received challenges in some resource-poor settings, screening of syphilis among pregnant women attending antenatal care is also done routinely in this region.