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Dec 18 2023

NC joins regional effort to combat congenital syphilis

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The NC Department of Health and Human Services has joined with southeastern states, insurers and national leaders in health care and public health to combat a worrying surge in infants born with syphilis. Read NC DHHS's announcement.

The new partnership is focused on ensuring the following standards are met:

• Women should be tested for syphilis three times during their pregnancy: at their prenatal visit, between 28-32 weeks of gestation and at delivery. In NC, state law requires that pregnant women be tested for syphilis.
• Newborns should not be discharged from the hospital until the mother’s delivery syphilis test results are known.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Vital Signs paper in November that pointed to inadequate prenatal testing and treatment for syphilis in pregnant women for the dramatic increase in congenital syphilis cases in the U.S. Between 2012 and 2021, the number of reported congenital syphilis cases increased by 755 percent. The problem is especially pronounced in the South, which makes up a third of the U.S. population, but accounts for more than half of reported congenital syphilis cases. The Vital Signs paper asserts that lack of timely testing for syphilis during pregnancy and lack of adequate treatment for women who test positive account for approaching 90 percent of congenital syphilis cases.

Learn more about the congenital syphilis crisis in North Carolina in this clinical update from November 2023. Note: Since this document was released, the number of neonatal and stillbirth deaths due to congenital syphilis in North Carolina has increased to seven.

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