U.S. Rates of Syphilis in Newborns Skyrocket


Reported cases of syphilis passed from mothers to their babies during pregnancy or delivery (congenital syphilis) more than doubled, from 362 in 2013 to 918 in 2017, according to the annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s the highest number in 20 years.

Congenital syphilis cases were reported in 37 states, primarily in the West and South, and the uptick parallels higher rates of syphilis in women of childbearing age. In a press release issued by the CDC, Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, warned that congenital syphilis can cause miscarriage, newborn death, and lifelong physical and mental health problems.

Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics, but if it’s left untreated, up to 80 percent of pregnant women pass the infection to their newborns. To reduce the risk for congenital syphilis, pregnant women should get early prenatal care, including syphilis testing. Women at high risk should also have follow-up testing. According to the CDC, one in three women who gave birth to babies with syphilis in 2016 were tested during pregnancy but acquired the infection after being tested or weren’t treated in time to prevent congenital infection.

Sourced from: CDC