Rise of syphilis in newborns another symptom of nation’s STD crisis
NCSD calls for federal action to address increasing burden of STDs and their devastating consequences
September 25, 2018
September 25, 2018
For Immediate Release Contact: Matthew Prior, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-715-7215
Washington, D.C. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data today showing that STDs in the United States increased for the fourth year in a row with more 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis reported in 2017. This is the single highest number of STDs ever recorded in this nation. Of particular concern is the rise of congenital syphilis. Once all but eradicated, this condition, affecting mothers and newborns, has roared back with nearly 1,000 cases.
“Newborns are now paying the price for our nation’s growing STD crisis. That we have any cases of syphilis among newborns, let alone an increasing number, is a failure of the health care system,” says David C. Harvey, executive director of NCSD. “It is also a symptom of the larger STD crisis in the U.S. and a sign of a public health system in urgent need of support.”
Congenital syphilis, which happens when a woman passes the infection to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth, has dire consequences. Up to forty percent of babies born to women with untreated syphilis may be stillborn or die from the infection as a newborn, and those that survive can suffer severe, life-long health consequences, including deformed bones, blindness, or deafness.
“When a baby gets syphilis it means the system has failed that mother repeatedly, both before and during her pregnancy,” says Harvey. “If STD prevention programs had anywhere near the support they need and women were getting quality preventative and prenatal care, no new mom would ever have to cope with this devastating diagnosis.”
The rise of congenital syphilis parallels increases in syphilis and other STDs among adults and underscores the need for a stepped-up response to the nation’s overall STD crisis. STDs have reached record highs in the U.S., increasing more than 30 percent in the last five years, largely due to cutbacks in federal resources. Federal STD funding has seen a 40 percent decrease in purchasing power since 2003, and without replenishment, there will inevitably be continued cutbacks to core public health services, leaving American lives – including young women and their babies – in jeopardy.
The National Coalition of STD Directors is a national organization representing health department STD directors, their support staff, and community-based organizations across 50 states, seven large cities, and eight US territories. NCSD advances effective STD prevention programs and services in every community across the country. For more information, go to ncsddc.org