Cases of congenital syphilis – when a mother transmits the disease to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth – have tripled in the United States since 2013, according to a report published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC .
The number of registered cases increased from 362 to 918 in just 5 years. Five states – Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana and Texas – account for 70% of the cases. Additional cases were reported in 32 other states, especially in the western and southern states. The overall increase in congenital syphilis surpasses the national increase in sexually transmitted diseases. The diagnoses of primary and secondary syphilis, the most infectious stages of the disease, increased by 76% in the United States between 2013 and 2017, reported the CDC.
Although rates of syphilis accelerated more among men, who accounted for more than 88% of infections in 2017, rates of this disease are also increasing among women. The new epidemiological study found 2.3 cases per 100,000 women in 2017, which increased from 1.9 cases diagnosed per 100,000 women in 2016.
Eight out of 10 pregnant women with untreated syphilis will transmit to their babies the disease through the placenta and this, in more than 40% of cases, can lead to the death of the fetus or newborn. One in three women They gave birth to a baby with syphilis. In 2016 the tests were done during pregnancy, but either they acquired syphilis after the test or they were not treated in time to cure the infection in the neonate, according to the CDC.
The CDC recommends that every pregnant woman be tested in the early stages of her pregnancy so that she can be treated and a fetal infection and possible death of the baby is prevented. In areas or states where the rates of syphilis or congenital syphilis are high, women must undergo repeated screenings, at 28 to 32 weeks of pregnancy and at the time of delivery, in addition to early detection tests.
The treatment for a mother with syphilis is with penicillin, which is curative and safe for both her and the fetus. In cases where the mother has not been treated or has not been properly treated, the baby can be treated with either a simple injection of penicillin or a common antibiotic treatment for 10 days.