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Health Officials Advise Screening for Syphilis During Pregnancy in San Diego County

Byeditor

Mar 26, 2024

San Diego County public health officials are urging pregnant women or those planning to become pregnant to speak with their healthcare provider about getting screened for syphilis. The number of babies born with syphilis in the county has increased to a record 35 cases in 2022, according to new data.

Syphilis is a contagious bacterial infection that can be transmitted through sexual contact or from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, resulting in congenital syphilis. This can lead to serious health issues for the baby, including miscarriage, stillbirth, and even death if left untreated.

The number of congenital syphilis cases in San Diego County has risen, with 35 cases in 2022 compared to 30 cases in 2021, including two stillbirths. The rate of congenital syphilis has increased by nearly 1,200% since 2013. Cases of syphilis in women of childbearing age have also increased from 369 in 2021 to 424 cases in 2022.

Health officials emphasize the importance of testing for syphilis during the first prenatal visit and again during the third trimester. Treatment with antibiotics is available, even during pregnancy. It is crucial for both pregnant women and their sexual partners to get tested and treated if necessary.

Syphilis in babies can result in serious complications such as bone abnormalities, severe anemia, enlarged organs, and neurological issues like vision or hearing loss. Nationwide, cases of syphilis, including congenital syphilis, have been on the rise since the early 2000s, with a slight decrease from 2021 to 2022.

County public health centers offer resources for syphilis and other STD testing. It is essential for pregnant women to prioritize their health and the health of their unborn babies by getting tested for syphilis and seeking treatment if needed.

By editor

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