CDC Sounds Alarm about Skyrocketing Newborn Syphilis Cases
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that newborn syphilis cases increased over 10 times from 2012 to 2022. “The increase in newborn syphilis follows rising syphilis cases among women of reproductive age combined with social and economic factors that create barriers to high-quality prenatal care and ongoing declines in the prevention infrastructure and resources.” A combination of individual-level and system-level barriers to timely syphilis testing and treatment have resulted in missed opportunities to prevent newborn syphilis. Individual-level barriers include lack of insurance and substance use disorder, and system-level barriers include systemic racism and limited access to healthcare. CDC is urging public health leaders and healthcare providers with pregnant or reproductive-age patients to use rapid syphilis testing and treatment during pregnancy, consider starting syphilis treatment immediately after a positive rapid syphilis test during pregnancy, address syphilis before pregnancy in counties with high syphilis rates, and work with local community health workers to overcome additional barriers to syphilis testing and treatment during pregnancy. For more information, see the CDC’s 11/7/2023 Vital Signs Syphilis in Babies Reflects Health System Failures.