Incidents of babies born with syphilis in the United States more than doubled from 2013 to 2017 according to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The 918 reported cases were the most in 20 years, an alarming trend, leading medical experts to again underscore the importance of prenatal care for every pregnancy.
Syphilis can be passed from an infected mother to her child through the placenta during pregnancy or through contact with a sore during childbirth.
Congenital syphilis can result in major – sometimes deadly – complications during pregnancy, including enlarged placenta, severe swelling, enlarged liver or spleen and even miscarriage or stillbirth. Babies that survive the pregnancy may be delivered prematurely or suffer from low birth weight, and later in life may have to cope with bone and teeth deformities, severe anemia, jaundice, meningitis, skin rashes and neurological issues, including blindness and deafness.
Without treatment, a pregnant woman with syphilis has up to an 80 percent chance of passing the disease to her baby. Thankfully, in most cases, transfer of syphilis from mother to child can be easily prevented through early diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics. That’s why many healthcare providers include syphilis testing as part of standard prenatal care during the first trimester. For mothers at higher risk, follow up tests may also be performed in the third trimester.
Congenital syphilis prevention is just one reason prenatal care is a must for every woman and every pregnancy. Pregnancy produces a host of chemical and physical changes in a woman’s body, and nearly one-third of women in the U.S. experience some kind of pregnancy complication. Add to that the complex development of the baby himself and it’s easy to understand how crucial it is to have proper medical care throughout the pregnancy.
Of course, the first step towards getting prenatal care is confirming you’re pregnant. At Sira in Gainesville, we offer free medical pregnancy tests and limited obstetrical ultrasounds to provide you answers. If you are indeed pregnant, our peer counselors can provide information about your pregnancy options, and even direct you to prenatal care resources.
Contact Sira today at 352-377-4947 to schedule your confidential appointment.