Newborn Syphilis Cases Reach 20-Year High

Newborn Syphilis Cases Reach 20-Year High

Even mothers who are tested for it during pregnancy are passing it onto their babies.

For some infants, life can only get better. A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that syphilis cases in newborns have more than doubled from 2013 to 2017.

How are babies falling ill? Congenital syphilis is passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy or while the baby is delivered.

Cases of the illness were reported in 37 states, with most of them falling in the Western and Southern states. The CDC says the surge parallels similar increases in syphilis among women of reproductive age.

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What happens to a baby with syphilis? The illness is not only uncomfortable but it’s serious business. Syphilis can kill a child, or result in the development of severe lifelong physical and mental health problems.

“No parent should have to bear the death of a child when it would have been prevented with a simple test and safe treatment,” says Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.

Experts are saying that one test for syphilis in pregnancy may not be enough. A follow up test for women who could be at a high risk of infection should be done across the board.

If it’s left untreated, there’s an 80% chance that a mother will pass the illness onto her baby. The thing is, an expectant mother could have syphilis in pregnancy and not even know it. Thankfully, it’s easily cured by antibiotics.

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