Syphilis Cases in Newborn Babies Surge—Should U.S. Provide Prenatal Care?
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by Causes | 9.28.18
- Congenital syphilis cases -- when a mother passes syphilis on to her baby during pregnancy or delivery -- have more than doubled in the U.S. since 2013, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.
- Eight out of 10 pregnant women who have untreated syphilis will pass it on to their babies through the placenta, and this can lead to stillbirth or death of a newborn in up to 40 percent of affected pregnancies, according to the CDC.
- Cases have surged from 362 in 2013 to 918 in 2017. Five states – Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas – account for 70 percent of the cases.
Untreated syphilis in a pregnant woman not only leads to possible fetal death or death in the first month of life from overwhelming infection, but it can also cause enlarged liver, enlarged spleen, rash, abnormal bone inflammation, and infections of the brain and eye in an infant.
The CDC recommends that every pregnant woman get screened early in her pregnancy, and in states where infection rates are high, it recommends repeated screening through pregnancy. Penicillin cures both mother and fetus in almost all cases where treatment is administered.
According to Dr. Pablo J. Sanchez, a principal investigator in the Center for Perinatal Research at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital:
“Every case of congenital syphilis represents a failure of our public health and we need to ensure early and adequate prenatal care for all women and appropriate testing of women so that we can detect all babies and treat them appropriately.”
What do you think?
Should the U.S. provide prenatal health care to expectant mothers? Why or why not? Tell your reps what you think, then share your thoughts below.
—Sara E. Murphy
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / Yobro10)
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