WEDNESDAY, Sept. 15, 2021 (HealthDay News) — As of July 29, 2021, 2,022 infants born in 2020 were reported as having congenital syphilis, representing the highest case count since 1994, according to a letter to the editor published in the Sept. 16 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Noting that the sequelae of congenital syphilis can be prevented when maternal syphilis is diagnosed and treated 30 days or more before delivery, Virginia B. Bowen, Ph.D., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues describe congenital syphilis case counts among U.S. infants born in 2020.

The researchers note that 2,022 infants born in 2020 had been reported to the CDC as having congenital syphilis as of July 9, 2021. This number exceeded the 1,870 born in 2019 and represented the highest case count since 1994. The number is expected to increase further until the end of the reporting period in October 2021. In 2020, at least one case of congenital syphilis was reported in 47 states and the District of Columbia; 32 states and the District of Columbia reported case increases over 2019. Overall, 6.9 percent of the 2,022 cases involved death related to congenital syphilis.

“Stopping community transmission of syphilis is the most effective way to prevent congenital syphilis; however, identification and treatment of syphilis in pregnant women remain invaluable for preventing infant death and disability,” the authors write.

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