Are you testing your pregnant patients for syphilis at the first prenatal visit and treating them if infected? If not, it’s time to step up your efforts. An analysis from the CDC shows that after years of decline, the number of congenital syphilis cases reported in the United States increased between 2012 and 2014.1
A closer look at the data indicates that cases of congenital syphilis increased by 38% from 2012-2014, from 8.4 to 11.6 cases per 100,000 live births. The number of congenital syphilis cases increased from 334 in 2012 to 458 cases in 2014, statistics show. Of the reported cases in 2014, 22% of mothers received no prenatal care. In women who received prenatal care but never were treated, 15% were never tested for syphilis during their pregnancy, data indicate.1
Babies who are infected with syphilis during pregnancy might have developmental delays or other poor outcomes. Up to 40% of babies born to women with untreated syphilis might be stillborn or die from the infection, the CDC states. Treating pregnant women at least 30 days before delivery is 98% effective at preventing illness in infants, says the CDC.
Clinicians should be aware of syphilis trends in women and men who have sex with women (MSW), as well as local congenital syphilis trends, said Gail Bolan, MD, director of the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention in its National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, in a Nov. 12, 2015, “Dear Provider” letter.
“Public health departments can reduce syphilis transmission within the community through partner services and screening programs for women and MSW,” said Bolan.
- Bowen V, Su J, Torrone E, Kidd S, et al. Increase in incidence of congenital syphilis — United States, 2012-2014. MMWR 2015; 64(44):1241-1245.