HOUSTON (KIAH) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent sounded the alarm as cases of syphilis in newborns saw a 10-time increase over a decade. New CDC data revealed Tuesday showed more than 3,700 babies were born with syphilis in 2022, a 32% increase from 2021.

Up to 40% of babies born to women with untreated syphilis are stillborn or die from the infection, according to the CDC. If the infection is not treated within the first 3 months of life, the baby can have lifelong complications such as deafness, blindness, and intellectual disability.

Health officials called for new measures to stop the increase, including encouraging sexually active women of childbearing age and their partners to get tested. Besides the need for expanded testing, the CDC also suggested starting syphilis treatment as soon as a pregnant woman tests positive. 

And these measures are supported by the data:

  • Almost 9 in 10 cases of newborn syphilis in 2022 might have been prevented with timely testing and treatment during pregnancy. 
  • More than half were among people who tested positive for syphilis during pregnancy but did not receive adequate or timely treatment. 
  • Nearly 40 percent were among mothers who were not in prenatal care.