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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported a surge in congenital syphilis cases in the United States over the past decade, with a 755% increase from 2012-2021. In 2022, there were 3,761 reported cases, leading to an increase in stillbirths, infant mortality, and severe birth defects. Most of these cases could have been prevented if mothers had received adequate testing and treatment, says the CDC. The issue disproportionately affects certain populations with babies born to Black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Alaska Native mothers being up to eight times more likely to have congenital syphilis than those born to White mothers. The rise is linked to an overall increase in syphilis among women of reproductive age. 

Where are the missed opportunities? While preventive measures have successfully reduced the rates of babies born with HIV and hepatitis B over time, syphilis testing during pregnancy remains scant. The CDC is advocating for a change, urging providers to launch programs for rapid syphilis testing and immediate treatment referral.

Rising Congenital Syphilis Trend Could Be Prevented