Rising Cases of Syphilis Among Pregnant Women and Newborns in San Diego County: The Urgent Need for Screening and Treatment

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

In recent years, syphilis has become a growing concern in San Diego County, particularly among pregnant women and their babies. According to new data, the number of babies born with syphilis in the county has increased to a record 35 cases in 2022. This represents a significant increase from 30 cases in 2021 and includes two stillbirths.

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

Health officials are urging pregnant women or those planning to become pregnant to speak with their healthcare provider about getting screened for syphilis. They emphasize the importance of testing during the first prenatal visit and again during the third trimester. Treatment with antibiotics is available, even during pregnancy, and it is crucial for both pregnant women and their sexual partners to get tested and treated if necessary.

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. Syphilis in babies can result in serious complications such as bone abnormalities, severe anemia, enlarged organs, and neurological issues like vision or hearing loss.

County public health centers offer resources for syphilis and other STD testing. Pregnant women should prioritize their health and the health of their unborn babies by getting tested for syphilis and seeking treatment if needed.

Overall, it is critical that pregnant women take proactive measures to protect themselves and their babies from infectious diseases like syphilis. Health officials encourage all pregnant women to discuss screening options with their healthcare providers to ensure they receive appropriate care during this important time in their lives.

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