Science

Mothers-to-be Encouraged to get Tested as Congenital Syphilis ‘Highest in 20 Years’

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has encouraged mothers-to-be to get tested as congenital syphilis has doubled since 2013, making it the highest recorded cases in the past 20 years in the United States.

“To protect every baby, we have to start by protecting every mother,” said Gail Bolan, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention in a report, adding that “early testing and prompt treatment to cure any infections are critical first steps, but too many women are falling through the cracks of the system. If we’re going to reverse the resurgence of congenital syphilis that has to change.”

Last month, a report came out that syphilis among newborn has also doubled for the past four years. CDC said reported cases has had an increase from a mere 362 in 2013 to 918 in 2017.

This, the CDC noted that this is the highest in 20 years.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease, which one usually get through unprotected sex. CDC said pregnant women must be tested for syphilis at their first prenatal visit as it may result to either a low birth weight, deliver the baby too early, or may even be stillborn.

“An infected baby may be born without signs or symptoms of disease. However, if not treated immediately, the baby may develop serious problems within a few weeks. Untreated babies can have health problems such as cataracts, deafness, or seizures, and can die,” the CDC said.

Pregnant women who have syphilis may easily be treated with prescribed anti-biotics.

Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention said, “no parent should have to bear the death of a child when it would have been prevented with a simple test and safe treatment.”

Research on and treatment of syphilis have a long history in the United States, dating back to the infamous 1932 study dubbed as the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.” Many assailed the said study after media reports came out that it was then being done for the past 40 years, without the benefit of patients’ informed consent, said the CDC. #

Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No A News Week journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.

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