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Maternal Syphilis Rates Have Tripled Since 2016

Maternal Syphilis Rates Have Tripled Since 2016

New data released by the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows an alarming increase in the United States’ maternal syphilis rates. According to the research, the overall rate of syphilis in mothers giving birth in the United States more than tripled from 2016 to 2022, rising from 87.2 to 280.4 per 100,000 births or about 1 maternal syphilis case for every 357 births.

The impact of these rising rates makes the biggest difference among newborns, where the US has seen a 10-fold increase in congenital syphilis. Congenital syphilis has been documented to cause adverse pregnancy outcomes such as fetal and neonatal death, low birthweight, preterm birth, and brain and nerve disorders.

While syphilis cases have been on the rise in all age and sex groups over the past few years, experts believe that the rise in maternal syphilis cases—and their subsequent passing of the disease on their infants—is most likely a result of a lack of comprehensive testing and prenatal care. The largest increase in syphilis cases occurred for mothers with no prenatal care (298%, from 262.5 to 1,044.0 per 100,000 births). The rate increases among mothers with no prenatal care were nearly four times higher than average.

“The syphilis crisis in our country is unacceptable…,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a press release addressing the rise and planned actions. “These actions we are taking will help ensure we are improving outcomes for birthing parents and newborns. We must prevent more deaths caused by congenital syphilis, an entirely preventable disease.”

Whether or not you think you may have syphilis, it’s important to check as a part of your regular prenatal care. Treatment is simple and can make a world of difference in your baby’s health. Learn more about the simple blood tests conducted during your first and third trimester visits here.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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