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How does gonorrhea affect newborns?

Gonorrhea can be transmitted during birth and therefore affect newborns. Fetuses with gonorrhea may be born prematurely. Newborns with gonorrhea may experience reactive arthritis (a common cause of arthritis in childhood that usually follows a viral infection such as strep, meningitis or gonorrhea) and gonococcal scalp abscesses.

Detecting infection in newborns, which is often without symptoms, requires sensitive and specific methods, including nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs), tissue culture and gram stains. The most common symptom is conjunctivitis that develops two to five days after birth. Gonorrhea can involve not only the eyes, but less frequently, the infant's genital tract and rectum as well.

Fortunately, a pregnant female can take medication that will cure gonorrhea without harming her or the fetus. Recommended treatment for neonatal gonorrhea is ceftriaxone, either as an intravenous or intramuscular injection. Eyedrops are used routinely in hospitals soon after birth to prevent gonococcal conjunctivitis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.