May 20, 2024

Screen Pregnant Women for Syphilis, Ob-Gyn Group Advises

Screen Pregnant Women for Syphilis, Ob-Gyn Group Advises

Pregnancy is a beautiful journey, but it comes with its share of medical concerns. One such concern is the resurgence of syphilis among expecting mothers, prompting the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) to issue new guidance regarding screening for this sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Importance of Screening for Syphilis During Pregnancy

Syphilis, if left untreated, can lead to severe complications for both the mother and the unborn child. Therefore, routine screening during pregnancy is vital to identify and treat the infection promptly.

Recommended Screening Schedule

ACOG now recommends that all pregnant women undergo syphilis testing three times during pregnancy: at their initial prenatal care visit, during the third trimester, and again at birth. This comprehensive approach aims to detect syphilis early and prevent adverse outcomes.

Rising Syphilis Rates Among Pregnant Women

Recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed a concerning trend: a significant increase in syphilis rates among pregnant women. This surge underscores the urgency of proactive screening measures.

Potential Health Risks of Syphilis During Pregnancy

Syphilis poses serious risks to both the mother and the developing fetus. Untreated syphilis can lead to complications such as heart and brain damage, blindness, deafness, and paralysis in the mother. Moreover, if transmitted to the fetus, it can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or lifelong health issues for the newborn.

Impact on Newborns

The consequences of congenital syphilis can be devastating. Infants born with syphilis may experience a range of health problems, including developmental delays, organ damage, and even death. Alarmingly, the number of babies affected by syphilis has risen sharply in recent years.

Challenges in Addressing Syphilis Rates

Several factors contribute to the escalating syphilis rates among pregnant women. These include treatment shortages, limited access to prenatal care, and the stigma associated with STIs. Overcoming these challenges requires a concerted effort from healthcare providers and policymakers.

Role of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Obstetricians and gynecologists play a crucial role in combating syphilis by advocating for routine screening, providing timely treatment, and raising awareness about preventive measures. Every healthcare encounter during pregnancy presents an opportunity to screen for syphilis and intervene effectively.

Preventive Measures

Timely diagnosis and treatment are paramount in reducing syphilis rates and mitigating its impact on maternal and fetal health. ACOG emphasizes the importance of universal screening and stresses that the majority of congenital syphilis cases are preventable with proper intervention.


The prevalence of syphilis among pregnant women poses a significant public health challenge, but it is one that can be addressed through proactive screening and intervention. By adhering to the recommended screening guidelines and addressing barriers to care, healthcare providers can help ensure healthier outcomes for both mothers and newborns.

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