Cases of newborns with syphilis doubles in four years - CDC

Treponema pallidum the bacterium that causes syphilis.									CDC

Treponema pallidum the bacterium that causes syphilis. CDC

The number of babies born with syphilis has more than doubled since 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a trend that medical professionals said shows the need to be vigilant about testing and treating the rare but potentially disease. The report says that this increase is much more than the sexually transmitted disease prevalence around the country. However, there is also a rise in cases among women with 1.9 cases among 100,000 women in 2016 and 2.3 cases per 100,000 women in 2017.

Case managers and doctors also warn pregnant moms who have been tested or treated that they can contract the infection again, said DeAnn Gruber, the department's director of infectious diseases. There have been 77 stillbirths due to syphilis in 2017 says the report. Babies who are born with syphilis can have neurological problems and may go blind or deaf within the first few years of their lives.

"What we're hearing from states is that the unfortunate increases in congenital syphilis cases has a lot to do with decreases in funding for the core work for STD prevention".

It's easy to cure a syphilis infection with antibiotics, but the sexually transmitted infection often does not cause immediate symptoms and people may not know they have it. The findings were published September 25 in the CDC's Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report.

The report adds that only one third of all women who gave birth to a baby with syphilis were tested for the infection during their ante natal check-ups.

Congenital syphilis or new born syphilis occurs in the new born baby when the mother is affected with the syphilis bacteria during pregnancy or delivery and passes it on to her baby. When a child is born with syphilis, it can be cured, but the risk of damage to organs that can lead to deafness and delayed development is already underway, Bolan said. If left untreated, a pregnant women with syphilis has up to an 80 percent chance of passing it on to her baby, according to the report. This includes women living in areas where syphilis is prevalent.

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Increasing awareness of congenital syphilis risk factors among pregnant women through partnerships with community organizations like the March of Dimes. Six babies have died at or shortly after birth this year.

Sexually active women can lower their risk of getting syphilis by staying in long-term monogamous relationships with someone who's been tested for the disease and using condoms every time they have sex, the CDC advises. Cases were reported in 37 states - primarily Western and Southern states. "We need to do a better job of educating providers and patients about the necessity of screening for these infections at the first prenatal visit".

David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors said that this increase in congenital syphilis is a "systemic failure".

"Newborns are now paying the price for our nation's growing STD crisis".

There were 918 cases of congenital syphilis in 2017 - passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy or delivery - up from 362 in 2013. "It is also a symptom of the larger STD crisis in the USA and a sign of a public health system in urgent need of support".

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