Kolkata, Mar 1 : With approximately 6 million new cases each year, syphilis is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) globally.
The World Health Organization (WHO) report which published on Thursday showed that there were more than half a million (around 661,000) total cases of congenital syphilis in 2016, resulting in over 200,000 stillbirths and neonatal deaths. If a pregnant woman who is infected does not receive early and effective treatment, she can then transmit the infection to her unborn infant.
This is known as ‘congenital syphilis’, which is often fatal. It can also cause low birth weight, prematurity, and other congenital deformities.
Congenital syphilis is the second leading cause of preventable stillbirth globally, preceded only by malaria.
Mother-to-child transmission of syphilis can result in a number of serious consequences for the health of newborn infants, including stillbirth, neonatal death, low-birth-weight, prematurity, and other congenital deformities.
Congenital syphilis is easily preventable and treatable – as long as testing and treatment are provided to pregnant women early during antenatal care. The risk of adverse outcomes to the fetus is minimal if a pregnant woman, infected with syphilis, receives testing and adequate treatment with benzathine penicillin, early in pregnancy – ideally before the second trimester.
Co-authored by WHO and HRP with partners, and published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, the new estimates show that out of the 661,000 total cases of congenital syphilis, there were 355,000 adverse birth outcomes – which represents a significant proportion of newborn death and disease.
The estimates showed that the overall global burden of congenital syphilis decreased over the 2012 to 2016 research period, although non-significantly, from around 750,000 to 660,000 cases.(UNI)