CAN A NEWBORN HAVE SYPHILIS?

Answer to this question is- YES! A newborn can have syphilis and it is called CONGENITAL SYPHILIS.

Congenital syphilis (CS) is a disease that occurs when a mother with syphilis passes the infection on to her baby during pregnancy. The bacterial that causes syphilis can pass through placenta and infect the unborn child. This happens when a pregnant woman has the infection before or during pregnancy and she’s not treated.

A mother in Primary, Secondary and Late Latent stage of syphilis can transmit this deadly disease to her unborn child. Read this for stages of syphilis.

About 50 out of 100 babies born to mothers of untreated syphilis are still birth or dead shortly after birth. Sometimes, these babies do not develop any symptom immediately at birth until few weeks later.

Congenital syphilis can cause the following damages to a newborn:

  • Low birth weight
  • Still birth- a baby born dead
  • Prematurity- a baby born before the right time
  • Miscarriage- pregnancy loss
  • Death

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CONGENITAL SYPHILIS

Baby with congenital syphilis

Many babies show the signs and symptoms early (EARLY CONGENITAL SYPHILIS) while some shows it later (LATE CONGENITAL SYPHILIS).

Babies with early congenital syphilis show the symptoms from birth while babies with late congenital syphilis show the symptoms after 2 years of age.

For babies born with EARLY congenital syphilis, congenital syphilis can cause:

1. Hardening of the umbilical cord

2. Rash

3. Fever

4. Low birth weight

5. Anemia

6. Enlarged liver and spleen

7. Jaundice (yellowish color of the skin and/or eye)

8. Shedding of skin affecting the palms and soles

9. Convulsions

10. Mental retardation

11. blood stain nasal discharge

Features of LATE congenital syphilis are bone deformities, serious eyes problem, blindness and deafness.

HOW TO PREVENT CONGENITAL SYPHILIS

Every pregnant woman must be screened for congenital syphilis and be treated appropriately.

YOUR BABY MUST BE TREATED ACCORDING TO CDC IF-

  • He/she is a confirmed case of syphilis.
  • If you as a mother has not been treated for syphilis despite having the disease
  • If your treatment status is unknown
  • If your treatment is less than or equal 4 weeks before delivery
  • If you have had syphilis more than once.
  • If a non-penicillin regimen was used to treat you when you had syphilis.

TREATMENT MUST BE STARTED ALL OVER IF YOUR CHILD MISSES MEDICATION FOR MORE THAN ONE DAY.