A new analysis reveals a tenfold increase in cases of newborn syphilis in the United States between 2012 and 2022, prompting the CDC to issue a “dire” warning about the disease’s prevalence.
According to the agency’s data, 3,761 babies were born in 2022 with syphilis, and over 200 of those babies passed away from the illness.
Based on a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine out of ten of those cases of babies born with syphilis could have been avoided with improved testing and treatment for the illness in pregnant women.
Among the OECD, a collection of industrialized nations, the US recorded the third-highest syphilis rate in 2019.
Still, the rates of syphilis are uneven, as they are in many facets of American life.
While several New England states endured years without more than five cases of congenital syphilis, the south as well as the southwest have rates of the disease similar to some developing countries.
It may have been possible to prevent congenital syphilis in almost 90% of cases.
More than half of women who tested positive for syphilis while pregnant and did not receive proper treatment went on to give birth to children who had the disease.
Of the patients, almost 40% did not receive prenatal care.
Syphilis Led to Stillbirth, Miscarriage, And Death
It is well known that congenital syphilis can result in stillbirth, miscarriage, as well as infant death. If an infant survives but does not receive proper treatment, they may experience developmental delays, blindness, skeletal abnormalities, and deafness.
Over fifty percent of the congenital syphilis babies born in 2022, according to CDC data, were born to pregnant women who tested positive for the disease but did not receive the necessary treatment.
Antibiotics are a simple and safe treatment for syphilis that can be administered during pregnancy.
As soon as a pregnancy is suspected or at any of the initial prenatal care visits, the CDC advises screening for syphilis. The CDC advises screening individuals at higher risk both at 28 weeks and at delivery.