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Babies being born with birth defects from congenital syphilis

Some recent cases of syphilis-related birth defects in the U.S. are irreversible.

Over 600 babies born last year in this country were affected by syphilis in some way. Of those, 45 of them were stillborn, had birth defects or later died within the first month of their lives. This is an alarming figure to many public health experts who say that in the U.S., syphilis — a treatable sexually transmitted disease — should not even still be an issue at all.

“When you have congenital syphilis occurring, it means there has been a breakdown in the whole medical system — that these cases are not being diagnosed until a baby is born, when they should be diagnosed antenatally (pre-birth) or even before then,” Infectious Diseases Society of America at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security spokesperson, Dr. Amesh Adalja, told HuffPost. “It’s unfortunate that we’re seeing a resurgence of a disease that should basically be gone.”

Syphilis is a highly contagious STD that can even be spread through prolonged kissing. Long-term, syphilis can lead to arthritis, brain damage, paralysis, deafness, impotence or blindness. Its typical symptoms include sores on the genitals and in the mouth, a rash on the palms or feet, swollen glands, fever, or, it might not reveal any signs to an infected person and lay dormant in the body for some time.

A single dose of penicillin is usually enough to knock it out.

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Syphilis is a highly contagious STD that can even be spread through prolonged kissing. Long-term, syphilis can lead to arthritis, brain damage, paralysis, deafness, impotence or blindness.

(jarun011/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Congenital syphilis is the term used to describe the disease when it’s passed along from mother to child in the womb. A fetus affected by syphilis may die before birth or have defects like blindness, deafness, deformed bones, enlarged livers or spleens or rashes.

Syphilis was nearly completely eradicated just 10 years ago but is thriving today with congenital cases rising 28% in the last year. This surge mimics the record high number of STDs in the U.S. — recently, more than two million cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea were reported.

“Each case of congenital syphilis is a sentinel event reflecting numerous missed opportunities for prevention within the public health and health care system,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division of STD prevention doctor, Sarah Kidd, told the news site. “These missed opportunities can include women who fell out of the system, either due to poverty, a lack of health insurance or other contributing factors.”

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health studies
children’s health
women’s health
pregnancy

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