By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a total of 2022 infants born in 2020 as of July 29, 2021, a number that already eclipses the 1870 cases reported in 2019. This is a number that hasn’t been seen in the US in 27 years and the numbers will likely get higher as the reporting period ends in a couple of months.
Of the 2,022 infants born in 2020 that have been identified and reported to CDC as cases of congenital syphilis, 139 were reported as stillbirths or infant deaths, or about 7 percent.
How has congenital syphilis diffused throughout the US in the past decade? In 2010, only 29 states and the District of Columbia reported one or more cases of congenital syphilis. In 2019, 43 states and the District of Columbia reported one or more cases, the CDC reports.
In addition, 32 states and the District of Columbia already reporting case increases relative to 2019.
In 2010, a total of 846 U.S. counties (27%) reported at least one case of syphilis in a woman of reproductive age; by 2019, the number of counties had grown to 1568 (50%).
According to a Correspondence published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine:
Stopping community transmission of syphilis is the most effective way to prevent congenital syphilis; however, identification and treatment of syphilis in pregnant women remain invaluable for preventing infant death and disability. The CDC recommends universal screening for syphilis at the first prenatal visit, with repeat screening at 28 weeks of gestation and at delivery for women who live in areas with high morbidity or who are at increased individual risk.
The implementation of strategies that reduce perinatal transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) — including the prevention of infection in women, increased prenatal testing, and advances in maternal treatment — has been associated with a decline in annual cases of perinatal HIV from an estimated 1760 in 1991 to fewer than 40 in 2019. A similar commitment of resources could reduce or eliminate congenital syphilis.
Congenital syphilis is an infectious disease transmitted by an infected mother to her baby in the womb. Adults transmit syphilis through sexual contact but mothers can transmit the infection to their baby in the womb or through the birthing process. The disease can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, death shortly after birth, prematurity and birth defects. A woman can be treated and cured for syphilis during pregnancy, but it is important for women to be tested in time for treatment to be effective. Babies who test positive for syphilis at birth must be treated immediately to prevent serious health issues.
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