May 23, 2024
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Alarming rise in babies being born with fatal sexually transmitted disease syphilis

Daily Express US| by Elin Johnson | June 29, 2023

America is facing a rise in babies born with the sexually transmitted disease syphilis, which can cause stillbirths.

Syphilis cases are rising across America, and with that comes cases of babies born with the sexually transmitted disease.

Congenital syphilis occurs when mothers pass their syphilis infection onto their unborn baby during pregnancy. Congenital syphilis can cause stillbirths. In 2021 over 200 infants with congenital syphilis died in the U.S.

In that same year, there were 2,677 cases of congenital syphilis reported in the U.S. compared to 324 in 2012.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a 700 percent increase in congenital syphilis cases over the past decade.

Contributing factors to these rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases include stigma around the diseases, substance abuse, poverty, and unstable housing. These factors can reduce access to prevention and care.

Syphilis typically spreads through sexual contact and symptoms can appear 10 to 90 days after infection.

Congenital syphilis is fully preventable with treatment and screening. Treatment at least 30 days before delivery can cut the risk of a mother passing the disease to her baby by 98 percent.

Rates of congenital syphilis have grown the fastest in southern and southwestern states, such as Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana. Cases in the south grew 432 percent between 2016 and 2021.

The state of Alaska has some of the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases including syphilis in the country.

A recent epidemiology report from the state of Alaska highlighted that congenital syphilis rates in babies have been on the rise in recent years. From 2018 through 2022 there were 26 cases including one stillbirth likely caused by syphilis.

The sick babies were born to mothers with ages ranging from 16 to 37, and 58 percent identified as Alaska Native or American Indian. Most of the mothers in the Alaska cases reported using drugs including heroin, amphetamine, methamphetamine, or cocaine within 12 months.

In 2021, a total of 447 cases of syphilis – including congenital – were reported, which was a 24 percent increase from 2020. Twenty-nine percent of the people in those cases reported that they were homeless or in unstable housing conditions.

Source: Alarming rise in babies being born with fatal sexually transmitted disease syphilis – US News – News – Daily Express US (the-express.com)