Missed Opportunities for Preventing Syphilis in Newborns
June 4, 2020 – Closing testing and treatment gaps can reduce cases
New CDC study shows that half of U.S. newborn syphilis cases (congenital syphilis) in 2018 occurred due to gaps in testing and treatment during prenatal care. Nationally, the most common missed opportunities for preventing congenital syphilis cases occurred when mothers were diagnosed but not adequately treated for syphilis (31% of cases) or mothers did not have timely prenatal care (28% of cases). Prevention gaps also differed by geographic region. Nearly 9 in 10 congenital syphilis cases were in the South and West. In the South, lack of adequate treatment was the most common missed prevention opportunity (34% of cases). In the West, lack of timely prenatal care was most common (41% of cases).
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It is critical that all pregnant women visit a health care provider as soon as possible during every pregnancy and are tested for syphilis on their first prenatal visit. For some women, repeat testing may be needed.