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Prenatal Syphilis Treatment

new CDC analysis finds that half of newborn syphilis cases in the United States occur due to gaps in testing and treatment during prenatal care. Researchers analyzed data across the key milestones that prevent congenital syphilis (CS) to better understand these gaps and what is needed to fill them. Data show these cases occur when moms are:

  • Diagnosed but not adequately treated for syphilis (31%)
  • Not tested early during prenatal care (10%)
  • Diagnosed with syphilis later in pregnancy after an initial negative test

While most failures occur while women are receiving some level of prenatal care, 1 in 4 cases are among women who did not receive timely prenatal care and testing (28%). Missed opportunities differ by region underscoring the need for tailored prevention. Despite the dramatic rise in congenital syphilis (up 261% from 2013-18) and related deaths (94 in 2018 alone), simple testing and treatment saves lives.

CDC Recommendations

Healthcare providers should follow CDC’s testing and treatment recommendations to help; however, the resurgence of syphilis and congenital syphilis cannot be tackled in the exam room alone. It will require action from everyone: CDC, health departments, providers, community leaders, universities and industry, individuals, and the healthcare system at large.

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