(Reuters) – The number of newborns born with syphilis has reached a 20-year high, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday, tracking a general increase in several sexually transmitted infections.
The CDC said reported cases of congenital syphilis, which is when the disease is passed from mother to baby, jumped 153 percent between 2013 and 2017, from 362 cases to 918.
The research institution blamed at least some of the cases on inadequate screening and health care access, noting that a third of women who gave birth to a baby with syphilis contracted the disease after doctors screened for it.
Such syphilis cases carry higher risks of miscarriage, newborn death and lifelong health issues.
The biggest increases were reported in western and southern states, the CDC said.
Syphilis can be easily treated with antibiotics, even during pregnancy, but if it is untreated, women have an 80 percent chance of transmitting it to their babies.
The CDC has attributed the general rise in sexual transmitted infections to lack of awareness about such diseases, inadequate screening and cuts to public health funding.
(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Alistair Bell)