HEALTH

Congenital syphilis is at a 30-year high across the nation

Nov 7, 2023, 9:00 PM

A pregnant woman sits on the ground. Congenital syphilis is at a 30-year high in the U.S....

Congenital syphilis is at a 30-year high in the U.S. (Photo by Diana Bagnoli/Getty Images)

(Photo by Diana Bagnoli/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Tuesday said syphilis rates in infants have increased 10 times in the last decade.

Those national numbers reflect what’s going on in Utah.

In 2022, there were 3,700 babies born with syphilis in the United States. What’s alarming to the CDC is how preventable and treatable syphilis is, yet right now, the United States is seeing a 30-year high.

The agency said reports of syphilis are increasing across all racial groups. However, Black, Hispanic, and Native American people seem to be impacted the most.

“A previous CDC analysis from earlier this year found that babies born to Black, Hispanic or American Indian/Alaska Native mothers, were up to 8 times more likely to have newborn syphilis in 2021, than babies born to white mothers,” said Dr. Laura Bachman from the CDC.

Part of the problem is mothers haven’t been receiving timely testing and treatment during pregnancy. So, the CDC is encouraging rapid treatment for pregnant women in hopes of reducing cases.

“CDC is encouraging providers to consider using rapid syphilis testing and presumptive treatment with the first positive test for patients who may face barriers to regular high-quality prenatal care,” Bachman said.

“By treating patients quickly rather than waiting for the results of a follow-up test and requiring another visit, we can reduce some of the greatest hurdles to the care some mothers need.”

According to the CDC, syphilis during pregnancy causes things like miscarriage, stillbirth, and lifelong medical issues.

Congenital syphilis in Utah

Dr. Andy Pavia with University of Utah Health and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital has practiced pediatric care for 30 years. He said 10 years ago, congenital syphilis cases were at zero.  

“In 2012 and 2011, Utah reported no cases of congenital syphilis during the period that was the baseline for the national numbers,” Pavia said.

Now, Pavia is treating one to two exposed infants per week.

Congenital syphilis in infants is completely preventable. However, untreated syphilis in mothers can be life-threatening for the child. 

“If pregnant people have good access to prenatal care and are tested early on, there should never be any children born with congenital syphilis,” Pavia said.

Syphilis will attack every part of a child’s body if the disease remains untreated, Pavia told KSL NewsRadio. That’s why it’s vital to be tested and treated for STDs early on in pregnancy.

And the treatment is easy. Pavia said that if a test detects syphilis, a one-time injection will often rid a child’s body of the disease.

“This is a real reminder that if you think you might be pregnant, you need to start getting prenatal care early,” Pavia said. “That care includes screening for syphilis.”

Related stories: 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Health

someone taps on facebook icon, utah lawmakers working to protect kids from social media...

Curt Gresseth

Utah lawmaker talks about his work to shield kids from social media

State Sen. Mike McKell discusses the legislation he has sponsored to undo the harm to Utah children from social media.

7 hours ago

donating platelets at the American Red Cross on April 12, 2023. Murray facility approved for cold-s...

Heather Peterson

New platelet storage program could save lives, Red Cross says

The American Red Cross has secured new funding to support their new cold-storage platelet program. They say being able to extend the shelf-life from five days to 14 could be a life-saving matter. 

2 days ago

Katy Welkie, vice president of Intermountain and CEO of Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital, ...

Eric Cabrera, Amie Schaeffer

Intermountain Health to open behavioral health center in Taylorsville

Intermountain Health is expanding its behavioral health services. A new center for children and teens will open in Taylorsville in 2025.

4 days ago

A hand is surrounded by blue surgical napkins as two other gloved hands operate on it during a carp...

Mariah Maynes

Utah Hand Center celebrates milestone in carpal tunnel surgeries

The Utah Hand Center said that is has become the first U.S. provider of orthopedic care to complete 3,000 successful carpal tunnel surgeries.

4 days ago

(Canva)...

Michelle Lee

Foods and drinks linked to anxiety

Let’s Get Moving Host Maria Shilaos spoke with Health Educator Dr. Julie Gatza to learn how we can reduce anxiety with foods and drinks.

6 days ago

The Foundation’s 38-foot RV, customized with two private exam rooms, will travel around the count...

CARLYSLE PRICE, KSL TV

Free skin cancer screening program visits Park City

Local dermatologists will provide free full-body skin cancer screenings in Park City in an RV meant just to check patients.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Congenital syphilis is at a 30-year high across the nation