There are many people wondering How syphilis affect a pregnant woman and her baby. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. it can be so complicated when it is not properly treated and worst when not treated at all. This article will enlighten on How syphilis affects a pregnant woman and her baby.
How does syphilis affect a pregnant woman and her baby?
When a pregnant woman has syphilis, the infection can be transmitted to her unborn baby. All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis at the first prenatal visit. For women who are at high risk for syphilis, live in areas of high syphilis morbidity, are previously untested, or had a positive screening test in the first trimester, the syphilis screening test should be repeated during the third trimester (28 to 32 weeks gestation) and again at delivery. Any woman who delivers a stillborn infant after 20 week’s gestation should also be tested for syphilis.
Depending on how long a pregnant woman has been infected, she may have a high risk of having a stillbirth or of giving birth to a baby who dies shortly after birth. Untreated syphilis in pregnant women results in infant death in up to 40 percent of cases.
An infected baby born alive may not have any signs or symptoms of disease. However, if not treated immediately, the baby may develop serious problems within a few weeks. Untreated babies may become developmentally delayed, have seizures, or die. All babies born to mothers who test positive for syphilis during pregnancy should be screened for syphilis and examined thoroughly for evidence of congenital syphilis.
For pregnant women only penicillin therapy can be used to treat syphilis and prevent passing the disease to her baby; treatment with penicillin is extremely effective (success rate of 98%) in preventing mother-to-child transmission. Pregnant women who are allergic to penicillin should be referred to a specialist for desensitization to penicillin.
When should I test for syphilis?
The first stage of syphilis can easily go undetected. The symptoms in the second stage are also common symptoms of other illnesses. This means that if any of the following applies to you, consider getting tested for syphilis. It doesn’t matter if you’ve ever had any symptoms. Get tested if you:
- have had condomless sex with someone who might have had syphilis
- are pregnant
- are a sex worker
- are in prison
- have had condomless sex with multiple people
- have a partner who has had condomless sex with multiple people
- are a man who has sex with men
If the test comes back positive, it’s important to complete the full treatment. Make sure to finish the full course of antibiotics, even if symptoms disappear. Also avoid all sexual activity until your doctor tells you that it’s safe. Consider getting tested for HIV as well.
People who have tested positive for syphilis should notify all of their recent sexual partners so that they can also get tested and receive treatment.
Syphilis can be treated effectively with penicillin. Pregnant women with diagnosed syphilis should be treated immediately. Their sex partner(s) should also receive treatment to prevent the mother from becoming re-infected and to improve the health of her partner. Surviving infants exposed to syphilis should be evaluated at birth to assess need for additional treatment, and closely followed post-delivery whether or not treatment was provided.
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