Health experts are sounding the alarm after the rate of congenital syphilis in newborns reached a 20-year high in the United States.
According to a new report from the CDC, eight out of 10 pregnant women with untreated syphilis will pass the infection on to their babies. This passage of the infection can result in miscarriage, newborn death and “severe lifelong health complications.”
CNN reports that the number of syphilis cases has more than doubled between 2013 and 2017, with Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana and Texas accounting for at least 70% of the cases. The increase in congenital syphilis alone has outpaced the overall increase in all sexually transmitted diseases.
The CDC said men accounted for more than 88% of syphilis infections in 2017, but cases among women are also increasing. Symptoms of the infection include small sores, vaginal discharge, wart-like growths, and skin rashes. Syphilis can easily be treated with penicillin, which is safe to take while pregnant, according to CNN.
The CDC recommends pregnant women get tested three times for the infection: once early on, once around 28 weeks and finally at delivery.