In yet another tragic report on syphilis in babies or congenital syphilis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in the Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Surveillance Report, 2018 a total of 1,306 congenital syphilis cases reported; the most since 1995. The case rate spiked 40 percent in one year alone and 185 percent since 2014. There was a startling 22 percent increase in newborn deaths from 77 in 2017 to 94 in 2018.
According to Director, Division of STD Prevention with the CDC, Gail Bolan, M.D.: “We face a struggle that is at once national, but also highly concentrated. Forty-one states and Washington D.C. reported at least one case of congenital syphilis. Yet five states were disproportionately burdened with the majority (70%) of cases. Every single instance of congenital syphilis is one too many when we have the tools to prevent it.” In addition, the new CDC report shows there were increases in the three most commonly reported STDs:
- There were more than 115,000 syphilis cases.
- The number of primary and secondary syphilis cases (the most infectious stages of syphilis) increased 14 percent to more than 35,000 cases, the highest number reported since 1991.
- Gonorrhea increased 5 percent to more than 580,000 cases – also the highest number reported since 1991.
- Chlamydia increased 3 percent to more than 1.7 million cases – the most ever reported to CDC.
“STDs can come at a high cost for babies and other vulnerable populations,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “Curbing STDs will improve the overall health of the nation and prevent infertility, HIV and infant deaths.” Antibiotics can cure syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. However, left untreated, STDs can be transmitted to others and produce adverse health outcomes such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy and increased HIV risk. Congenital syphilis (syphilis passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy) can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, newborn death and severe lifelong physical and neurological problems.