By Jacob Phillips, Local Democracy Reporter
A doctor has urged pregnant women to get tested for gonorrhoea as their babies could go blind if the infection is passed on to them.
Dr Manoj Malu said three newborns have come into Clarewell Clinic in Marylebone in the past few months with “red, sticky eyes” – they were later confirmed to have a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Gonorrhoea can be passed from mothers to children but it can be treated with antibiotics.
Dr Malu warned: “What we are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg. In the last three months, I have seen three women because their children have an eye infection from gonorrhoea or chlamydia.
“Generally when we talk about STIs we think of young, sexually active people. We think it is their problem.
“Every week there are newborn babies getting eye infections from chlamydia and gonorrhoea. It is a very serious infection that can lead to blindness.
“The reality is it doesn’t spare anyone. It can be found in newborn babies. It is a very serious infection. It can be very subtle so make sure to get tested.”
Babies born with gonorrhoea can have red, swollen eyes and they can have a thick, pus-like discharge, according to the NHS website.
The infection is usually easily cured but gonorrhoea has become far more resistant in recent years.
The antibiotic dose to cure the STI is now 400 per cent stronger than it was seven years ago.
Mr Malu explained that pregnant women can often have STIs without realising it.
According to the doctor, the two main reasons for this are cheating partners and women contracting the disease years earlier but not realising.
All pregnant women are offered blood tests to check for certain STIs, including HIV, at their first antenatal appointment but Dr Malu has advised that pregnant women should get tested for all STIs to remove any risk of infections being passed to their children.
The doctor also warned of the risks of getting sexually transmitted diseases through oral sex.
He said: “Many people think that oral sex is no different to kissing someone. I see people who come in with all sorts of symptoms.
“I tell them they have gonorrhoea and they look baffled but they don’t use condoms for oral sex.”
The doctor called on Londoners to visit sexual health clinics rather than buying tests or antibiotics online to ensure they are properly treated.
Pictured top: Dr Manoj Malu (image: Clarewell Clinics)