RALEIGH.- There have been at least five stillbirths and the deaths of newborns suffering from congenital syphilis in North Carolina this year.
This warning was given by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) when it issued a public health alert due to these deaths.
In this context, NCDHHS asked for help from health care providers to prevent congenital syphilis and reverse the dangerous trend.
According to the agency, from 2012 to 2022, syphilis cases among women in the state increased by 547%, with a corresponding increase in congenital syphilis infections, from 1 case in 2012 to 57 cases in 2022.
The Department of Health specified that congenital syphilis could be prevented.
However, if left untreated during pregnancy it can lead to spontaneous abortion, fetal and neonatal death.
This can have adverse effects on the child’s health throughout life, such as bone damage, severe anemia, enlarged liver and spleen.
It can also cause jaundice and neurological problems, which can lead to blindness or deafness, meningitis or skin rashes.
A review of North Carolina’s congenital syphilis cases in 2022 identified three missed opportunities to prevent the disease:
- little or no prenatal care
- Missed opportunities to test women during pregnancy according to North Carolina public health law
- Inadequate or delayed treatment of maternal syphilis infection.
“All pregnant women should be screened at least three times during pregnancy,” NCDHHS commented.
The department said sexually transmitted infections may still be present even if exposure has occurred in the past and even if there are no symptoms.
According to 2022 data, 86% of pregnant women with syphilis in North Carolina had no symptoms at the time of diagnosis.
“Testing based on symptoms alone does not rule out these infections,” he revealed.
The health unit urged pregnant women to get tested during pregnancy to detect sexually transmitted infections.