CDC is recommending concerted action to stop the increase of newborn syphilis cases and continues to sound the alarm about the consequences of a rapidly accelerating epidemic of sexually transmitted infections in the United States. Syphilis during pregnancy can cause tragic outcomes, like miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death, and lifelong medical issues. Newborn syphilis occurs when mothers do not receive timely testing and treatment during pregnancy.
New CDC data reveal that more than 3,700 babies were born with syphilis in 2022, which was more than 10 times the number in 2012. The increase in newborn syphilis follows rising syphilis cases among women of reproductive age combined with social and economic factors that create barriers to high-quality prenatal care and ongoing declines in the prevention infrastructure and resources.
“The congenital syphilis crisis in the United States has skyrocketed at a heartbreaking rate,” said CDC Chief Medical Officer Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H. “New actions are needed to prevent more family tragedies. We’re calling on healthcare providers, public health systems, and communities to take additional steps to connect mothers and babies with the care they need.”
- Almost 9 in 10 cases of newborn syphilis in 2022 might have been prevented with timely testing and treatment during pregnancy.
- More than half were among people who tested positive for syphilis during pregnancy but did not receive adequate or timely treatment.
- Nearly 40 percent were among mothers who were not in prenatal care.
One of the biggest risk factors for syphilis for some people is where they live. According to previous CDC data, in 2021, more than 70 percent of the U.S. population lived in counties considered to have high rates of syphilis among reproductive-age women (above the Healthy People 2030 target).
CDC has the full press release.