CDC: Syphilis in babies up 32% in a year

Public health officials issue a call for urgent action after the alarming increase
The number is up 1,000% in a decade
Published: Nov. 8, 2023 at 8:04 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Public health officials issue a call for urgent action after an alarming increase in babies born with syphilis.

The CDC recently released a report saying more than 3,700 babies were born with syphilis in the U.S. in 2022. That’s a 32% increase over the previous year and a 1,000% rise in a decade. The CDC says the new numbers are the highest reported in the U.S. in more than 30 years.

Syphilis is a chronic bacterial disease. It’s usually transmitted sexually but a pregnant mother can pass it on to her baby.

Syphilis during pregnancy can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death, or lifelong medical issues for the baby.

But it’s preventable. Health officials say about 88% of last year’s cases could’ve been prevented with testing and treatment during the mother’s pregnancy.

A single dose of penicillin given at least a month before the end of pregnancy nearly always prevents infected mothers from passing the bacteria on to their babies, doctors say.

The CDC says the situation has reached “dire” and “alarming” levels. It’s calling on the entire medical community to help find and treat infected people to protect fetuses and newborns.

RELATED: Number of syphilis cases rising in Wisconsin