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
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF 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
4. Low birth weight
6. Enlarged liver and spleen
7. Jaundice (yellowish color of the skin and/or eye)
8. Shedding of skin affecting the palms and soles
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.
Dr. Adeyemo Olusola is a medical graduate of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State, Nigeria along with certificate in advanced diploma in Principles of Nutrition, Management and Leadership, Dublin and Certificate in Global Health from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In addition to his numerous certifications, he is a certified Telemedicine Physician from Harvard Medical School, USA. He is an avid reader of books from different oases of life, expert in Medical Statistics and an award winner at both local and international level. “So many a time, I have seen people die avoidable death because of lack of knowledge or information, falling victim of fate. There is then a necessity laid on us to help arm our society to the teeth, as a healthy society cannot be detached from an informed one. Hence, there is need for healthgist.net. We hope you will have a wonderful stay on our website.”