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Improved syphilis testing recommended for pregnant women amid rise in infections in newborns

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Improved syphilis testing recommended for pregnant women amid rise in infections in newborns

In the United States, the increase in syphilis cases among newborns has caused alarm, leading the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) to call for increased screening measures during pregnancy. syphilis, a sexually transmitted diseaseIt can be transmitted through sores during vaginal, anal or oral sex and can be devastating if not treated in time, especially in fetuses.

When a pregnant woman becomes infected, the disease can cross the placenta and cause congenital syphilis, which is associated with serious health problems such as miscarriages, low birth weight and long-term complications such as cataracts, deafness, seizures and heart damage. In some cases, it can be fatal for the baby.

Recognizing the critical need for intervention, ACOG has updated its guidelines for syphilis screening during pregnancy. The new recommendation advocates testing at three key stages: the first prenatal visit, during the third trimester and at birth.

This update marks a significant change from previous guidelines, which recommended risk-based testing during the third trimester primarily for those in high-syphilis areas or who had been exposed to the disease during pregnancy. The urgency of this updated guidance is due to a staggering increase in cases of congenital syphilis across the country. According to ACOG, it has multiplied almost eightfold in the last decade alone, Press release.

Dr. Christopher Zahn, interim CEO and chief of clinical practice and health equity and quality at ACOG, highlighted the role of obstetricians and gynecologists in addressing this public health challenge. “From a public health perspective, we recognize that OB-GYNs and other obstetric care physicians play a critical role,” Dr. Zahn said.

She emphasized that while ACOG continues to support the CDC’s sexually transmitted infection treatment guidelines, the new ACOG guidance moves away from an individualized, risk-based approach to testing later in pregnancy. This change aims to increase opportunities for detection and treatment of the disease.

Data from the Centers Disease control and prevention underline the seriousness of the situation, revealing an 80% increase in syphilis cases from 2018 to 2022. In 2022 alone, 3,700 cases of congenital syphilis were reported, indicating a worrying 10 percent increase over the decade former.

Dr. Zahn noted the numerous challenges in combating the rise in syphilis cases, including a shortage of treatment, limited access to prenatal care, and the stigma surrounding sexually transmitted infections. “Timely diagnosis and treatment are key to reducing syphilis rates,” he explained.

The devastating impact of Congenital syphilis It’s profound, but with rigorous screening protocols, many cases can be prevented. Additional routine screening during pregnancy is a crucial step healthcare providers can take to save lives and prevent transmission of this preventable disease from mother to child.

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