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In recent years, the number of babies born with syphilis in San Diego County has increased, reaching a record 35 cases in 2022. Syphilis is a contagious bacterial infection that can be transmitted through sexual contact or from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, known as congenital syphilis. If left untreated, congenital syphilis can lead to severe health issues in infants and even death.

To prevent the spread of syphilis and protect the health of pregnant individuals and their babies, county public health officials are urging pregnant individuals or those planning to become pregnant to speak with their healthcare provider about getting screened for syphilis. It is crucial for pregnant individuals to get tested for syphilis during their first and third trimester prenatal visits, as treatment during pregnancy can protect the baby from the infection.

Syphilis can have mild symptoms or be mistaken for other health conditions, but it can be effectively treated with antibiotics, even during pregnancy. Sexual partners of individuals with syphilis should also be tested and treated to prevent further transmission. Congenital syphilis in babies can lead to bone abnormalities, severe anemia, organ enlargement, and brain and nerve problems like vision or hearing loss.

Nationwide, cases of syphilis have been on the rise since the early 2000s. However, there was a slight decrease from 2021 to 2022. Testing for syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases is available at county public health centers to help prevent the spread of infections and protect the health of pregnant individuals and their babies.

It’s important for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant to understand the risks associated with congenital syphilis and take steps to protect themselves and their babies from this dangerous infection. Speaking with your healthcare provider about getting screened for syphilis is a crucial step in protecting your own health as well as that of your unborn child.

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