This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.
What is the research about?
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease that causes blisters in the genital area. In pregnant women, genital herpes may increase the risk of having a baby early, called preterm birth, or having a baby with low birth weight. Preterm birth and low birth weight are leading causes of infant death and health problems in the United States.
Treating pregnant women with genital herpes may reduce the risk of poor birth outcomes. However, many pregnant women with genital herpes choose not to treat it. Some worry about how the medicine will affect the baby. Others don’t get treatment because there isn’t enough evidence to say for sure if the treatment works.
The research team is reviewing medical records of pregnant women to better understand how and when to treat genital herpes.
Who can this research help?
Results from this study may help pregnant women and their doctors decide whether and how to treat genital herpes.
What is the research team doing?
This study has two parts. In part 1, the research team is reviewing electronic medical records for 90,000 pregnant women in northern California to see if
- Treating genital herpes in pregnant women lowers the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight
- The timing, amount, and long-term effects of treatment affect the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight
- The effectiveness of treatment depends on the type and severity of genital herpes
In part 2, the team is interviewing a sample of women to get more information, such as their medical history and how well they follow doctors’ recommendations for treatment. This information will help researchers be more confident in their conclusions from the study.
Patients who had genital herpes during pregnancy, doctors, and representatives of two groups that work on sexual health care are helping to plan and conduct the study.
Research methods at a glance
- No information provided by awardee
Other Stakeholder Partners
- William Smith, National Coalition of STD Directors
- Deborah Arindell, American Sexual Health Association
- Dr. Tracy Flanagan, Kaiser Permanente Northern California
- Dr. Piero Garzaro, Kaiser Permanente Northern California