Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Syphilis Cases In Babies Hits 20-Year High In US, CDC Reports

GRUENBERG VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS CDC reports rise in STDs across city, nation
Celia Hoffman | 28 September, 2018, 21:25

Cases of congenital syphilis - when syphilis is passed from mother to baby during pregnancy - more than doubled in the USA since 2013, outpacing overall increases in STDs nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Congenital syphilis cases have more than doubled in the same period, rising from 362 reported cases in 2013 to 918 reported cases in 2017, said to be the highest number in 20 years. Babies born with syphilis can have neurological problems and may go blind or deaf.

When mothers pass syphilis to their babies during pregnancy, the infection can cause miscarriage, newborn death, premature birth, low birth weight, deformed bones, severe anemia, meningitis, skin rashes, brain and nerve problems, and other severe lifelong physical and mental health problems, according to the CDC.

Community partners, residents and Public Health staff have developed an action plan that focuses on addressing the causes of disproportionate rates of infections among men who have sex with men, African American women, transgender women, and African American and Latino youth. Though rates of syphilis accelerated most among men, who accounted for more than 88% of infections in 2017, rates among women are also rising.

Dr. Pablo J. Sanchez, a principal investigator in the Center for Perinatal Research at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, said, "I am not surprised that congenital syphilis has increased because we have been seeing increasing cases of syphilis among women of child-bearing ages".

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The biggest increases were reported in western and southern states, the CDC said. If a mother has syphilis and doesn't get tested or treated, she has an 80% chance of transmitting it to her baby, according to the CDC. Overall, there were 30,644 syphilis diagnoses in the United States in 2017-up 76% from the year before.

The overall increase in congenital syphilis outpaces the national increase in sexually transmitted disease overall, the report indicated. Infected babies can also die in the months after delivery, she added. "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".

But syphilis during pregnancy can be "easily cured" with antibiotics, the statement added.

"It's crucial that screening guidelines are followed and that pregnant women are tested for syphilis and other STDs very early in pregnancy", he said. "If STD prevention programs had anywhere near the support they need and women were getting quality preventative and prenatal care, no new mom would ever have to cope with this devastating diagnosis".

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